Donald Trump’s administration is “undoing decades of civil and human rights progress,” particularly with regards LGBTQ rights.
The agency found that an “extraordinary volume” of civil rights complaints were filed in the first two years of Trump’s presidency, but civil rights agencies “generally lack adequate resources to investigate and resolve discrimination allegations within their jurisdiction, leaving allegations of civil rights violations unredressed.”
Commissioners also criticized the Trump administration for rolling back or underfunding efforts to curb anti-LGBTQ discrimination, NBC News reports.
“In addition to using the budget and other processes to undermine civil rights enforcement, the Administration has also changed course in many substantive civil rights policy areas,” Karen Narasaki, a member of the commission, said in the report. “An obvious example is this Administration’s rollback of efforts to combat LGBTQ discrimination.”
Narasaki called the changes since 2016 “truly unprecedented in the nearly 30 years I have worked in the nation’s Capital” and said the Trump administration is “not just shifting enforcement priorities, they are undoing decades of civil and human rights progress.”
Other areas of concern highlighted in the report include Department of Justice guidance issued in 2017 that directed other departments and agencies to prioritize religious liberty, with the report noting that the guidance “prioritizes religious freedom over the rights of others and may be retrogressive to protecting the rights of LGBT persons.”
The report also highlighted a recent Trump administration proposal to allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ people by claiming religious objections.
Commissioner Michael Yaki said in the report that the proposal offered “no apparent rationale tied to business necessity other than providing a justification for discrimination.”
The commission also highlighted other areas where the Trump administration has attempted to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people, such as an HHS proposal to remove protections for transgender patients in the Affordable Care Act.
The report also noted the Department of Education’s rescinding of Obama-era guidance on protecting transgender students from discrimination — a move Education Secretary Betsy DeVos later admitted she knew would ultimately harm transgender people.
DeVos also announced that the Department of Education would essentially ignore discrimination complaints from transgender students, arguing that transgender students aren’t protected by federal civil rights legislation.
The commission, using data from the Center for American Progress, said that the Trump administration had dismissed or administratively closed 91.5% of LGBTQ discrimination cases, versus 65.4% for the Obama administration.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development was also highlighted for a “notable policy shift,” when Secretary Ben Carson announced plans to ban homeless transgender people from facilities matching their gender identity.
Speaking to NBC News, commission chair Catherine E. Lhamon said the reports findings with regards LGBTQ civil rights are “devastating.”
Lhamon said the Trump administration has been “as vocal as it is possible to be about its dismissal of LGBTQ rights as worth protecting” and said it would take “a very long time to dig out from under the damage this administration has caused to civil rights in this county.”
Commissioner Yaki said in the report that “no other President has so blatantly and deliberately targeted the rights of the LGBT community.”
He continued: “Today, after successfully fighting for marriage equality and the repeal of prior discriminatory practices such as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ among other basic freedoms, the LGBT community finds itself once again in a familiar place — being pushed towards the outside looking in, having to summit again the rocky pathway to freedom and equality that was surmounted just scant years ago, all because of a President and an Administration that has chosen intolerance, rather than inclusion, as its first principle.”
In a statement, the White House rejected the reports findings, instead saying the “radical left” are trying to portray LGBTQ Americans as “threatened.”
“As the first U.S. President in our history to favor same-sex marriage when he was sworn in, President Trump has never considered LGBT Americans second-class citizens and has opposed discrimination of any kind against them,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere told NBC News. “While the radical left has pushed disgusting and false accusations that LGBT Americans are threatened, the President has hired and promoted LGBT Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, cabinet agencies, and ambassadorships.”
However, the LGBTQ Victory Institute recently estimated that the Trump administration has nominated significantly fewer LGBTQ people to positions within the administration when compared with the Obama administration.
“We know that there were over 300 nominated under the Obama administration,” Ruben Gonzales, vice president of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, told Metro Weekly in August. “We know that the Trump administration is probably less than 20, if we had to guess.”