The Trump Administration’s Anti-LGBT+ Policies Could Impact COVID-19 Response

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global health and the international economy, sparking a recession that could in time become a depression, President Donald Trump and his administration are continuing plans to reduce the rights of LGBT+ people in the midst of the greatest health crisis this country has faced in nearly a century. Rather than leading the country throughout this national crisis, President Trump has instead attempted to blame governors who have picked up the slack for the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and instead of taking charge, his administration is still planning to implement anti-LGBT+ policies that will severely harm members of that community. According to Politico, the Department of Health and Human Services is rewriting the Section 1557 provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which bans discrimination based on sex and gender identity, and if rewritten would allow healthcare providers and practitioners to discriminate against LGBT+ people. In an administration that has in the past removed references to LGBT+ people from government websites, appointed officials with a lengthy history of making anti-LGBT+ references or donating money to organizations that discriminate based on sex and gender identity, rescinded protections against transgender students and even banned transgender people from serving their country in uniform, this would more than any of the other rollbacks put more lives at risk.

To further highlight this problem, the Center for American Progress reports in a poll that 65% of LGBT+ adults have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, or HIV/AIDS. According to a similar study, nearly one in four LGBT+ people have reported being discriminated against in the last year, while 8% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual and 29% of transgender individuals reported being turned away by a health care provider due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. These numbers will likely skyrocket if these protections are rescinded and with the appointments of conservatives to the United States Supreme Court like Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh, and the previous landmark Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission setting back LGBT+ rights, it is very plausible that if this is brought up to the nation’s highest court, these rollbacks would be preserved. Similar to the COVID-19 Pandemic where states such as New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, California, and others have picked up the slack due to the early inaction by the Trump administration, these states and more have also picked up on protection LGBT+ people and other minorities ever since President Trump took office in January 2017.

Although these rollbacks appear to imminent and LGBT+ people are going to be in for a rough year, there is still hope for the future. With President Donald Trump’s approval ratings in decline after a large bump in late-March 2020, it is extremely likely that he is in for an extremely close re-election fight against former Vice President Joe Biden. His approval ratings were at a height of 45.8% on March 28, 2020, according to 538, which aggregates all of the well-reputed pollsters in the United States. A little over a month later on April 29, 2020, his approval ratings sank to 42.6%. State governors, meanwhile, continue to see extremely high approval ratings due to their handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Democrats such as Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Phil Murphy of New Jersey as well as Republicans such as Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Larry Hogan of Maryland all have stunningly high approval ratings. President Trump, meanwhile, only has approval ratings with his head above water in only fifteen states, half of what he won in the 2016 Presidential election. His approval ratings do not surpass any of the fifty governors, even those whose responses to COVID-19 have left much to be desired. Although individual polls can be wrong, and they have been in the past, this is a consistent pattern among polls run by liberal and conservative media institutions, and mostly neutral polls agree with these findings.

If President Donald Trump is re-elected in November 2020, his anti-LGBT+ policies will likely continue, and with it a rise in anti-LGBT+ hate crimes. According to the Washington Blade, the number of total hate crimes towards people with a different sexual orientation by 8% from 2018 to 2019, while during that same time anti-transgender hate crimes shot up by 41%, according to FBI hate crime statistics. Only by voting out Donald Trump in November 2020 as well as Republicans in the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, and state legislatures around the country can we truly end discrimination towards LGBT+ people and other minorities. If you are not registered to vote, following this link at usa.gov to register to vote. Thirty-nine states offer to register to vote online, as well as the District of Columbia. Important swing states like Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all allow people to register online to vote, and no matter what states you live in there are local races for the state legislature, county, city, town, and even village offices, and referendums across the country. Voting on November 3, 2020, is the only way to end the most disastrous administration of our lifetimes and to end the last four years of vital civil liberties and rights being eliminated by the federal government, and to bring a return to sensible leadership.

 

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