Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly helped lead the charge to scuttle a draft executive order that would have overturned Obama-era enforcements of LGBT rights in the workplace.
A draft executive order on LGBT rights that outlines how to roll back former President Barack Obama’s protections and expand legal exemptions based on religious beliefs has been circulating among journalists and worried progressive groups this week.
However, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Politico reported that President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and husband Kushner, who have a record of supporting gay rights, favored putting out a clear statement from the president, promising to uphold the 2014 Obama executive order and stopping the momentum for the turnaround in its tracks.
Later, the White House released a statement saying that Trump “is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”
“The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump,” the statement read.
White House officials downplayed the turnaround, suggesting that the draft executive order would never have reached the president’s desk for his signature.
They described it as one of about 200 executive orders that were contemplated during the transition — some by outside groups, others by transition officials — and that it was never intended to be signed, even without pushback from Kushner, Ivanka Trump or anyone else.
“Some are real, some are drafts of things people like, and some are ideas people from outside have suggested,” a White House official told Politico, describing the executive orders that have been written.
But the statement did not quash the chatter completely. Members of the religious right with ties to the Trump administration said they have been led to believe that some changes are still forthcoming.
“I think they’re going to address the conflict that exists currently, which would preclude religious organizations from contracting with the federal government,” Tony Perkins, CEO of the Family Research Council, said in an interview. “I feel confident that they have an appreciation of religious freedom, and I’m pretty certain they’re going to address it. I’m talking to people in the Trump administration, and I know they understand the importance of this.”
Perkins said that Vice President Mike Pence has been involved and is “clearly sensitive to this.”
If so, the fight over LGBT rights could reveal a fault line between Pence, an evangelical Christian who as governor of Indiana signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, and Kushner, who is Jewish and whose social circle includes socially progressive New Yorkers.
“There are some in Trump’s family that have some views on these things,” a source close to the discussions said. “That’s where the decision is ultimately being made.”
Democratic groups such as the nonprofit Center for American Progress also continue to oppose changes they think could still come, Politico reported.
“If accurate, this executive order would sanction sweeping taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, women and their families in blatant violation of Trump’s promise to ‘protect our LGBT citizens,’” said Winnie Stachelberg, the center’s executive vice president for external affairs.
Stachelberg said the White House statement left open a channel to broaden religious exemptions that prevent gay and transgender individuals from getting health care or fostering a child.