On September 12th, HRC Foundation released a new report, Trump’s Administrative Abuse and the LGBTQ Community, highlighting the Trump-Pence administration’s highly unusual and abusive efforts to quietly roll back critical protections, programs and services for the LGBTQ community by bypassing longstanding administrative policies and customs for instituting such changes.
“Under the Trump-Pence administration, federal agencies have ignored long-standing guidelines for engaging the public in policy changes specifically targeting the LGBTQ community and in some instances have failed to report changes all together,” said HRC Associate Legal Director Robin Maril. “This stealth effort by Trump-Pence to disregard the legal safeguards in place to promote consistency and public accountability is undermining public trust and fostering an atmosphere of anxiety and skepticism.”
The new HRC Foundation report details the Trump-Pence administration’s concerted effort to ignore longstanding policy and customs — including those calling for 30- to 90-day public comment periods for most rulemaking. The administration has released a series of complex, high-impact rules with appallingly brief public comment periods — some allowing just days for interested and affected parties to weigh in.
In March, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ALC) failed to announce it had removed a crucial question about sexual orientation from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), an annual national survey of recipients of select services under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Following an outcry from advocates including HRC, HHS finally issued an announcement correction — but refused to extend the public comment period.
Additionally, the Trump administration has been pushing major and controversial regulation changes affecting LGBTQ people though interim final rules (IFRs), which allow changes to become effective immediately, without public comment. Before Trump was elected, this process was reserved for urgent changes and was rarely used for complex or controversial regulations except in emergencies. In May, Trump proposed an IFR that could strip millions of women and LGBTQ people of access to critical contraceptive care previously guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Vox reported on a leaked draft of the proposal that would allow employers — including for-profit companies — to refuse to provide insurance coverage of birth control on the basis of religious or moral objections.
Also detailed in the HRC Foundation report is Trump’s reliance on social media platforms like Twitter to announce presidential intent, reflecting not only disrespect for the process and the people affected by his pronouncements, but also a dangerous misunderstanding of the limits of his own power. Trump’s unconscionable tweets asserting his intention to bar qualified transgender people from serving their country in the U.S. Military are a prime example of this undemocratic power grab.
Tweets can’t make policy. They don’t carry the force of law, and, as we have seen by Trump’s recent actions, they do not provide federal agencies and their staff with the vision and guidance required to implement policy. Unfortunately, what tweets can do is incite anxiety, undermine the real and valuable daily work of the federal government, and contribute to a corrosive and divisive political atmosphere.
Read the full report, Trump’s Administrative Abuse and the LGBTQ Community, here.
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