FFAA Statement on President Trump’s State of the Union AddressFebruary 6, 2019 • 11:50 am
WASHINGTON — Tonight President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address, but with the exception of pledging to end the HIV epidemic, gave little indication that his administration will change its course of treatment towards LGBTQ Americans. During his remarks, six transgender service members sat in the audience as guests of members of Congress.
Freedom for All Americans’ CEO Masen Davis issued the following statement in response to the President’s remarks:
“It was powerful – and unprecedented – to see so many proud, transgender servicemembers attend tonight’s State of the Union address. The LGBTQ community faces significant challenges under this Administration, but history and the majority of Americans are on the side of fairness and equality. The steady drumbeat of progress will not slow as long as we continue building understanding about LGBTQ people. We must continue building momentum at the state level, in the courts, and in Congress in order to fully ensure equal protections for all. Millions of Americans support basic protections for LGBTQ people, as well as bipartisan leaders in more than half a dozen states that have taken action in recent weeks to treat everyone fairly.”
In 2017, the President directed Pentagon officials to begin denying transgender Americans entry into the U.S. armed forces. Since then, the legality of the order has been playing out in multiple courts. In the same year, the Department of Justice withdrew guidance explaining how schools can protect and create safe environments for transgender students. Soon after, the DOJ declined to appeal a nationwide preliminary court order halting enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. Under the direction of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ later filed a legal brief arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and released a sweeping “license to discriminate” memo and guidance seeking to allow federal agencies, government contractors, and private businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Despite continued efforts from the Trump administration to undermine LGBTQ equality, there is significant bipartisan momentum building for nondiscrimination in states across the country. New York recently became the 20th state in the country to have explicit, comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people. And in just four weeks, six governors across four states — including three Republican governors — have issued executive orders in recent weeks that provide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in their states, to varying degrees. Republican lawmakers are lead sponsors of LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation in Arizona, Virginia, Florida, and Missouri; and Republican lawmakers are opposing anti-LGBTQ measures in Georgia, Texas, and Indiana.
To get a better sense of how transgender Americans and service members experience discrimination every single day, please visit Faces of Freedom – a new LGBTQ movement-wide resource that elevates the stories of LGBTQ people and allies.