President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced he will continue to support a 2014 executive order by President Barack Obama designed to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals. The statement from the Trump White House said he “continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBT rights, just as he was throughout the election.” In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016, Trump pledged continued support.

Obama’s order

Obama’s Executive Order 11478 amended an earlier executive order by President Richard Nixon “to provide for a uniform policy for the federal government to prohibit discrimination and take further steps to promote economy and efficiency in federal government procurement by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The order was issued on July 21, 2014 and took effect immediately.

Impact on religious groups

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, federal law - including the executive order - does not prohibit religiously affiliated federal contractors from favoring some people over others in their hiring decisions if the decisions are related to religious affiliation of prospective employees. However, the department added, “it does not allow religious organizations to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.”

Christian conservative opposition

At the time of the 2014 Obama order, the conservative Family Research Council expressed opposition, saying “President Obama has ordered employers to put aside their principles, and practices in the name of political correctness.

This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior.” Obama's order was also denounced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. While several conservative Christian organizations opposed the order, Republican leaders in Congress were largely silent on the issue, refusing to publicly argue with Obama over the policy.