Biden official withdraws last-minute Trump LGBT memo

President Biden’s administration on Friday revoked a last-minute memo issued by former President Trump’s Justice Department that sought to limit the scope of a landmark Supreme Court decision on workplace discrimination against the LGBTQ community. 

Greg Friel, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, on Friday issued a memo revoking a Trump administration directive in response to the Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. The justices ruled in a 6-3 decision that the country’s laws on sex discrimination in the workplace also apply to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump Justice Department’s 23-page memo dated Sunday said the court’s ruling should not extend to areas where gender-based policies on bathrooms and sports teams are relevant. The memo also indicated that employers could cite religious beliefs as justification for discrimination against LGBTQ employees. 

However, Friday’s move, first reported by Politico, revoked the Trump administration’s memo, with Friel arguing that the directive conflicted with a Wednesday executive order from Biden that committed the federal government to preventing any type of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. 

“I have determined that this memorandum is inconsistent in many respects with the E.O.,” Friel wrote in his Friday directive to civil rights division colleagues, according to Politico. “I plan to confer with Department leadership about issuing revised guidance that comports with the policy set forth in the E.O. As part of that process, we will seek the input of Division subject matter experts.”

Biden’s executive order, one of several actions taken on his first day in office, calls on federal government agencies to review current policies against sex discrimination to make sure they prohibit discrimination toward members of the LGBTQ community. 

Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love,” the order states. “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.” 

“All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation,” the order adds.

Sunday’s memo from former acting Assistant Attorney General John Daukas, released publicly one day before Trump left office, sided with Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in the Bostock case. 

“We must hesitate to apply the reasoning of Bostock to different texts, adopted at different times, in different contexts,” Daukas wrote. 

“Unlike racial discrimination, the Supreme Court has never held that a religious employer’s decision not to hire homosexual or transgender persons ‘violates deeply and widely accepted views of elementary justice’ or that the government has a ‘compelling’ interest in the eradication of such conduct,” the memo added, according to the Journal.

Tags Biden Bostock v. Clayton County Donald Trump Gender identity Justice Department LGBTQ community Politico Samuel Alito Sexual orientation Supreme Court The Wall Street Journal Trump Administration Workplace discrimination
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