House Republicans ‘trying to gut’ Obama’s LGBT rights protections via armed forces bill

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are conspiring to nullify Barack Obama’s executive order on LGBT rights – via an amendment to a vital armed forces bill.

At present, federal anti-discrimination laws do not protect people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as Republicans have long blocked any legislation introducing specific protections.

President Obama sought to circumvent Congress in 2014 by issuing an Executive Order that outlawed anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace for federal contractors, providing some limited protections.

But now even those small advances face being rolled back, after Republicans greenlit an amendment to the mammoth 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee today approved an amendment by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) that would attempt to dismantle President Obama’s executive order, by a vote of 33-29.

The Human Rights Campaign warns: “The Russell amendment was approved by a vote of 33-29 early this morning. It would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

“With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.”

David Stacy of HRC said: “Rep. Russell’s harmful amendment would strip away existing protections for LGBT workers by undermining President Obama’s executive order on LGBT non-discrimination protections in federal contracting.

“Evidently some House Republicans want to emulate their state legislative colleagues in undermining legal protections for LGBT Americans. House Republican Leadership must get this language out of the bill.”