President Donald Trump reaffirmed his “commitment” to LGBTQ rights just hours before the federal government paved the way for sweeping discrimination against trans people.
Trump sent the Log Cabin Republicans an official letter to commemorate the gay GOP organization’s 40th anniversary. In an official presidential communique, the Commander-in-Chief proclaimed that the United States is “founded on the undeniable truth that all of us are created equal.”
“We are equal in the eyes of our Creator,” Trump wrote. “We are equal under the law. And we are all equal under our Constitution.”
“No matter the color of our skin or our sexual orientation, we all live under the same laws, salute the same great American flag, and are made in the image of the same Almighty God,” continued the POTUS, who claimed during the 2016 presidential election that he would be a “friend” to the LGBTQ community.
Trump referenced that remark in the Dec. 21 statement, which was published to the Log Cabin Republicans’ official Twitter account on Wednesday.
“As we write the next great chapter of our Nation, we reaffirm our commitment to these fundamental truths and will work to ensure that all Americans live in a country where they feel safe and where their opportunities are limitless,” the president added.
Those comments conflict with actions from his own administration this week.
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the federal agency would be reshuffling to create a new bureau dedicated to investigating claims of religious liberty and other moral objections, particularly when it comes to health care workers who don’t want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients.
In a statement, HHS claims its Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is intended to “restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”
These policies stand to have a deleterious impact on the LGBTQ community, advocates say. The Center for American Progress reports that 41 percent of queer or trans people who live in rural areas of the country claim it would be “difficult or impossible” to receive treatment at an alternative health center were they to be turned away by their local hospital.
Research shows that transgender people already face enormous discrimination in health care settings.
A 2009 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that nearly 1 in 5 respondents (or 19 percent) had been harassed, abused, sexually assaulted, or turned away by a healthcare provider.
The Williams Institute, a pro-LGBTQ think tank at the University of California Los Angeles, claims this week’s moves only stand to make the problem worse.
“Research demonstrates the health disparities and discrimination to which the transgender community is subject,” says Executive Director Jocelyn Samuels in an emailed statement. “This new rule is likely to result in denials of critical health care to this vulnerable community in ways that will fundamentally undermine their health and wellbeing.”
But amidst the Trump administration’s latest attempt to rollback LGBTQ rights, the Log Cabin Republicans praised the president’s letter of “best wishes,” which he claims was co-signed by First Lady Melania Trump.
“What a way to start the year!” President Gregory T. Angelo reportedly said in a note to the group’s supporters.