LGBTQ advocates notch legal win in fight against Trump health care rule

LGBTQ advocates notch legal win in fight against Trump health care rule
© Greg Nash

A federal judge on Wednesday handed a win to LGBTQ advocates in their bid to stop the Trump administration from rolling back ObamaCare nondiscrimination protections.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, temporarily blocked the repeal of an Obama-era rule that bars discrimination against transgender people. The 101-page opinion also narrowed the scope of exemptions available to religious health care providers while the case plays out in court.

“We are very gratified by the court’s detailed and extensive analysis in putting on hold two key aspects of the Trump administration’s rule that threatened lives and well-being of LGBTQ people in the midst of a pandemic,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney Lambda Legal, one of the advocacy groups that brought the lawsuit.

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The D.C.-based case was brought by several advocacy groups including Lambda Legal and the TransLatin@ Coalition and is backed by the law firm Steptoe & Johnson.

The dispute is among five challenges the Trump administration faces over its effort to repeal a 2016 rule that made it illegal for doctors, hospitals and other health workers to deny care to someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The rule was based in part on findings by the Department of Health and Human Services that roughly 1 in 4 transgender people say they have been refused needed health care and harassed in a medical setting.

The Trump administration in June issued a new rule that aimed to roll back the nondiscrimination protections, in part by interpreting sex discrimination as being based on "the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."

But just days after the new policy was issued, the Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that LGBTQ people are protected from workplace discrimination.

Last month, in a separate challenge to the Trump policy, a federal judge in the New York City borough of Brooklyn cited the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in temporarily blocking the administration’s repeal of ObamaCare protections.