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Will Trump’s Presidency Affect LGBTQ Rights?

Cherrie Coutts Photography

Marriage equality, along with other LGBTQ rights, was a hard-fought civil right, decades in the making, that millions celebrated just a little over a year ago. As the United States, and the watchful eyes of the rest of the world, reels from the unexpected victory of Republican Donald Trump, queer folks are rightly concerned with what will happen to their right to marry over the next four years. 

“Everybody is a little stunned right now,” Jay Brown, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, told The Daily Beast today. “We know there are several threats coming at us, and we spent many months warning voters about the anti-LGBTQ platform of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Now we’re confronted by that.” 

First things first, nothing will happen immediately, said Bernadette Smith, founder of the Gay Wedding Institute

“There’s nothing to worry about now,” she said in an email to her clients today. “For same-sex marriage rights to be repealed, a case would have to go to the Supreme Court again. The earliest a decision could be made is June 2018, if a case even makes it that far.”

The Supreme Court, however, is a major priority for the president-elect, according to NPR News. Trump previously said that he would “strongly consider” overturning marriage equality with a very conservative Supreme Court. In a list of Trump’s first 90-day priorities, he wrote, “SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Late Justice Scalia was one of three dissenting voices in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. He wrote the dissenting opinion and, in it, called the decision both a “threat to American democracy” and “judicial Putsch.”

LGBTQ advocates are most concerned about trans rights, according to Washington Blade. Trump previously supported disregarding advice from the Departments of Justice and Education and allowing schools to discriminate against transgender students. 

“There’s more,” Kevin Naff wrote in the Blade. “Advocates have said they fear Trump could roll back administrative changes, such as those benefiting LGBT veterans or status of forces agreements allowing service members to bring a same-sex spouse with them overseas, or halting movement on lifting the ban on openly transgender service.”

Beyond the regression of progressive laws that have afforded LGBTQ people more rights, there are still gaps in America’s state-by-state patchwork of non-discrimination laws. According to the Human Rights Campaign, only a handful of states, including California, Illinois and New York, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Still a few more protect sexual orientation only, or protect public employees only.

The coming administration will likely not support further protections as, according to Time, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence voted against [The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation] in 2007 and later said the law “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace.

Moreover, according to Out.com, Trump is in support of “the First Amendment Defense Act, which protects discrimination on religious grounds and prohibits the government from taking action against anyone who ‘believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.’”

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Although I've spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University's journalism program, I've written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I'm not writing, I'm debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.