The president’s quest to dismantle Obama’s legacy at any price took a dramatic turn this morning, as the nation’s top Keebler cop, Jefferson Beauregard “Soft Batch” Sessions decided once and for all that gender identity is a hoax, and that the Department of Justice no longer finds transgender citizens worth defending against discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.
Buzzfeed has the lowdown, having obtained a copy of the memo indicating the reprehensible decision:
Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se. This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.
Technically, he’s right: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn’t specifically address LGBT rights, specifically prohibiting discrimination only on the basis of sex. However, obeying the letter of the law rather than the spirit doesn’t get you invited to a lot of parties, nor does it do a goddamned thing to preserve the dignity, integrity, even the personal safety of American’s million-plus transgender citizens. It just makes you an unreconstructed dickwad.
Never mind the fact that Session’s “letter of the law” in this case is a total red herring. BuzzFeed spoke with attorney Sharon McGowan, a former DOJ Civil Rights Division employee who currently represents the LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal, who pointed out that Session’s memo is “devoid of discussion of the way case-law has been developing in this area for the last few years,” going on to state that his position “is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.”
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There’s clearly a coordinated effort to reverse-engineer advances in LGBT rights made under President Obama at work here. First was the reversal of Obama-era guidelines designed to protect transgender students in public schools; then there was Trump’s public support for the idea that “cake art” sales exist as a form of protected religious speech (no, I’m not kidding); after that was the DOJ’s recent argument against Title VII’s ability to protect gays against workplace discrimination. This is precisely the kind of red meat that inspires feeding frenzy after feeding frenzy among their zombified base, providing the perfect smokescreen from behind which to push for more tax cuts and deregulation.
But don’t worry, everyone! Sessions and his henchman have told us that this is all just a technicality, and we should totez believe them when they say this changes nothing other than to set things right after that lawless black man stuck his foot in their business. Honest! Sessions added,
The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.
Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo,
The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
This memo is a total joke. The odds are good that, given the four-alarm dumpster fire that is the annals of the federal government at the moment, significant internal pushback against Sessions’ decision to reopen the floodgates of transgender discrimination isn’t likely to happen. And with the nation’s political consciousness so fragmented, there’s no telling how those resisting the Trump administration will respond (or be able to) outside of making a lot of sound with little corresponding fury, meaning that, for now, transgender folks are kinda screwed. Again. For freedom!
This was originally posted on Pink Elephants.