President Donald Trump will continue to enforce a 2014 Obama administration anti-discrimination order offering protections to LGBT federal employees, the White House announced on Tuesday.
The decision, first reported by the New York Times, was made public in a Tuesday statement from the White House Press Office.
“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the statement reads. “The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-L.G.B.T.Q workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump."
On Monday, rumors that the administration planned to unveil an executive order slashing LGBT rights circulated social media.
Asked about the issue on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue. There’s a lot of executive orders, a lot of things the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”
Tuesday's announcement has not quelled the LGBT community's fears.
As the Times points out, preserving the 2014 Obama orders does not guarantee the President will not take other executive action that would threaten LGBT rights.
“That is a fine statement, but actions are far more important," Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven said in a statement. "President Trump is assembling a cabinet of people who have undermined the rights of LGBT people and everyone with HIV. Last week he invoked pretend concern for LGBT people as a justification for his rejection of refugees. As we await his nomination for a Supreme Court seat that isn’t his to fill, we will be watching him closely. Actions speak louder than words.”
Trump's SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch, a Denver federal judge, was selected after the statement was issued. Gorsuch famously championed religious liberty in the 2013 Hobby Lobby ruling, the Advocate reports.
Joining a 2015 opinion, he rejected an incarcerated transgender woman's arguments alleging that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections violated her rights by denying her hormonal therapy treatment and rejecting her request to dress in feminine clothing. Lambda published a detailed review of Gorsuch's record online following Tuesday's announcement.
Trump has also said he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act. "This law would deem it unjust discrimination to say a business is ineligible to receive public money if they discriminate," Lambda senior counsel Jennifer Pizer told ATTN: in a Monday phone interview.
"We should consider it profoundly worrisome," she continued.
There's still much work to be done when it comes to LGBT equality.
Nearly two thirds of LGBT Americans included in a 2015 poll from the Human Rights Campaign reported having experienced discrimination in the workplace, public spaces, education, or housing.
"We all should be on high alert," Pizer said Monday. She stressed the importance of speaking out about LGBT issues in addition to calling congressional representatives.
"We’re in a time where people need to express their views also by being in the street," she said. "We won’t stand for our country being taken over by people using law to foster discrimination."