The White House on Monday said that President Donald Trump would not reverse a 2014 order from his predecessor that created workplace protections for the LGBTQ community.
“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGTBQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the White House said in a statement. “The president is proud to have been the first-ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”
The statement added that it was Trump’s decision to keep President Barack Obama’s 2014 order that prevented companies doing federal work from discriminating against LGBTQ employees.
Some advocates remain wary.
“LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims and women are scared today, and with good reason,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told The New York Times. “Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House.”
Rumblings began earlier on Monday that the president was poised to lift Obama’s ban, which would be the final nail in the coffin for LGBTQ rights and a death sentence for many in the community, advocates said.
An EO allowing discrimination against the LGBTQ community on the basis of religious freedom could come later, however, according to reports.
“I’ve confirmed House and Senate members plan to refile bills to protect people who have a religious objection to same-sex marriage,” Dominic Holden, a national LGBT reporter at BuzzFeed News tweeted on Friday.
Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign JoDee Winterhof told LGBTQ Nation that the rumors are “deeply troubling.”
“As the President and his team plan their next steps, we want to make one thing clear: we won’t give one inch when it comes to defending equality, whether it is a full-on frontal assault or an attack under the guise of religion.”
Sources told the publication that the order could affect not just employment, social services and adoptions, but open up the possibility that federal employees or contractors could be fired based on sexual preference or gender identity.
Anyone not hiring a potential job candidate, not serving the customer in their store or denying an adoption to parents who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgenderwould be allowed to use their religious beliefs as a basis for the discrimination — the same argument that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis used in her attempt to keep gay couples from acquiring marriage certificates in 2015.
The EO signed by Trump on Wednesday hardening the nation’s borders and barring people from certain countries from entering the U.S. “could amount to a death sentence to LGBTQ people who have few means of escape,” Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, an LGBTQ human rights organization, told NBC Out.
“Thanks to President Trump’s executive order, LGBTQ people will remain in unsafe environments, they will languish in refugee camps, they will endure violence and some will die,” she said.”By turning his back on people from these countries, Trump just joined those who believe it’s OK to imprison and kill people for being gay or trans.”
Perceived homosexuality in countries like Sudan, Iran and Yemen is punishable by death. The same perceived offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Libya, Syria and Somalia.
“[LGBTQ immigrants] are really looking to the United States as a place to live out, to be proud, to start families and have their marriages recognized, to have their family relationships [and] their children recognized [and] just to live safely in a way that is just not possible in a lot of places in the world,” Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality told NBC Out.
Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the rumors during Monday’s news conference, but “refused to answer the question,” LGBTQ Nation reported. NBC Out reported the White House did not respond to a request for comment.