Donald Trump — Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
The Human Rights Campaign has slammed a decision by the Treasury Department to potentially delay coronavirus stimulus checks to Americans in order to include Donald Trump’s name.
The nation’s largest LGBTQ rights organization called it “revolting and inhumane” to delay checks because of the president’s “personal vanity,” and said it proves that Trump is “unfit to lead.”
“Millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the last month alone causing economic havoc unparalleled in our modern economy,” HRC president Alphonso David said in a statement. “This economic hurricane has disproportionately impacted marginalized groups, including LGBTQ people, who more often find themselves in industries that have completely shut down or dramatically scaled back staff and pay.
“These families and individuals are wondering how they’re going to put food on their tables, pay their electric bill, pay their rent or other basic needs. Yet, Trump is delaying this much needed, vital resource for his own personal vanity. This act is absolutely revolting and inhumane and proves yet again he is unfit to lead.”
The $1,200 checks — first suggested by Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) — are a key component of the coronavirus stimulus bill passed last month with bipartisan support. They are intended to help Americans struggling with their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Washington Post reports that those checks may now be delayed while new software is written and tested in order to add Trump’s name to each check.
It marks the first time that a president’s name has appeared on checks issued by the Internal Revenue Service, which typically operates in a nonpartisan nature.
Trump reportedly asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin whether his signature could be used to authorize the checks, the Post reports. However, requirements that a civil servant sign the checks mean that Trump’s name will instead be printed in the memo line.
Treasury officials claimed that including Trump’s name had not delayed the delivery of checks, but IRS officials disputed that to the Post, noting that the last-minute nature of the demand would “create a downstream snarl,” according to Chad Hooper, president of the IRS’s Professional Managers Association.
HRC noted in a press release that LGBTQ people are more likely to work in industries highly affected by COVID-19, as well as related shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. As such, they have greater exposure and economic sensitivity to the pandemic.
Forty percent of LGBTQ workers have jobs in the top five industries affected by COVID-19, HRC said, and less than one-third of LGBTQ people who responded to a 2018 HRC survey said that their employer offered paid sick leave.
According to a recent PRRI survey, LGBTQ people are more likely to have a lower income than the general population, with almost half of LGBTQ people surveyed earning less than $50,000 per year.
A coalition of organizations last month urged those in charge of tackling coronavirus to remain aware that the LGBTQ community is “particularly vulnerable” to the effects of COVID-19.
The open letter, led by the National LGBT Cancer Network, cited a number of factors including increased rates of smoking (COVID-19 is a respiratory illness), higher rates of cancer and HIV in the LGBTQ community, and healthcare discrimination including denial of care due to religious beliefs — a practice previously sanctioned by the Trump administration.
However, health advocates have also noted that those living with HIV who regularly take their antiretrovirals and have an undetectable viral load do not have any more severe reactions to COVID-19 than those without HIV.
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