‘You can’t un-ring a bell’
federal workforce, which President Obama expanded to include transgender people.
LGBT workers at the Commerce Department may also find restitution for claims of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964. The law contains no explicit prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a growing number of courts have determined the prohibition on sex discrimination under the law applies to LGBT people.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) decried the Commerce Department omission as “appalling” in a statement and was among those who called on Ross to reinstate sexual orientation and gender identity in the policy.
“While LGBT employees of the Department remain protected under the government-wide policy instituted by former President Obama, this decision by Sec. Ross sends a signal that LGBT Americans are not welcome at the department he leads,” Hoyer said. “In addition to the injustice of his move, the Secretary ought to reflect on the role of the LGBT community in our economy and the importance of LGBT businesspeople in creating jobs and expanding trade to benefit our country and its workers.”
Joel Kasnetz, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, also criticized the Trump administration for the LGBT omission and said the restoration of the language is an insufficient remedy.
“You can’t un-ring a bell,” Kasnetz said. “By trying to erase LGBTQ people from the Commerce Department’s nondiscrimination policy, the Trump administration sent a crystal clear message to LGBTQ Americans: ‘You’re not welcome here.’”
The Commerce Department didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on why sexual orientation and gender identity were excluded from the policy in the first place.
A White House official deferred to the Commerce Department statement in response to inquiries on whether President Trump was OK with the omission and whether it was the result of an administration-wide directive. In January, the White House said Trump would leave in place Obama’s executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors.