By Andrew Bucksbarg
The Humane Party seeks to uphold the inherent freedom in all animals, including humans, as well as the living environments they require for a life “free from exploitation, discrimination and abuse.” The rights of other animals are deeply connected to the rights of the human animal. When people are suffering, it can be difficult for them to extend their empathy and care to others, including other animals and the delicate environments that sustain them.
The Humane Party supports an effort to further the civil liberties for all people and the work of social justice movements. It seeks to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment II to the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex, sexual orientation, gender, or choice of spouse or partner.”
Currently, the Trump administration has removed all of the web pages related to much of the current work of equal rights movements supported and endorsed by The Humane Party. For instance, all reference to the rights of LGBT people has been erased from the Whitehouse.gov site. The website during the Obama administration placed “Protecting LGBT Individuals from Discrimination” under the rubric Issues/Civil Rights/Discrimination. A chronology of thirteen actions taken from 2009-2013 followed an introduction with this text, “The President and his Administration are dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBT communities across the country.”
Now that these clear statements and actions in support of LGBT rights have been scrubbed from the White House website, many are concerned for what this ushers in under President Donald Trump through a lack of support and the emboldening of those who wish to reverse progress made on LGBT rights, such as marriage equality.
The White House press secretary Shawn Spicer was questioned recently on an executive order that bans anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors and that was signed by President Obama. “I don’t know on that one,” Spicer said. “I have to get back to you on that. I don’t know that we’ve gotten that far in the list of executive orders, but I’d be glad to get back to you.” Pressed further he said, “Again, it’s not—I just don’t know the answer. I’ll try to get back to you on that.”
An example of homophobia disguised as religious freedom impacting the LGBT community is Trump’s appointee for Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson. She has opposed an anti-bullying law brought forward by Senator Al Franken, because it would limit the right of religious children to “express an opinion with respect to homosexuality.” The inference that bullies are expressing free speech is a dangerous position to endorse for LGBT youth, who have a high risk of suicide, as well as anxiety and depression.
President Trump has made clear in statements and in actions that he opposes marriage equality. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “He has embraced the nation’s most odious anti-LGBTQ law, North Carolina’s HB2, and put on the ticket Mike Pence, who has become the face of anti-LGBTQ discrimination after signing a bill to allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBTQ people because of who they are or whom they love.” He has said he would sign the “so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would enable Kim Davis-style discrimination across the country.” Trump has also stated that he would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would work toward overturning the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality ruling.
Trump has been inconsistent on LGBT rights, clearly misunderstanding the connection between marriage equality and the civil rights of LGBT communities. In 2000 he responded to The Advocate,
I like the idea of amending the Civil Rights Act to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward. We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans—it’s only fair. I actually suggested this first, and now I see [Democratic presidential candidate] Bill Bradley has jumped on the bandwagon and is claiming the idea as his own.
However, reversals on this position abound, particularly related to marriage equality.
Alarmingly, and perhaps emboldened by the Trump administration’s opposition to marriage equality, the Texas Supreme Court has agreed to review a 2013 case, brought forward by a same-sex couple who sued Houston for depriving gay city employees of spousal benefits.
Those opposed to LGBT rights insist that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was limited to same sex couples obtaining a marriage certificate. They argued that the government still retains the authority to deny privileges associated with marriage, such as spousal benefits for Houston city employees.
Currently, the battle over LGBT rights rests in executive orders by President Donald Trump and legal challenges to marriage equality as well as the rights linked to it. The platform of the Humane Party strongly opposes the erosion of the civil liberties won by the efforts of the LGBT community and its supporters. The Humane Party seeks to settle this once and for all by means of amending the Constitution via the Equal Rights Amendment II, guaranteeing that equal rights under the law “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex, sexual orientation, gender, or choice of spouse or partner.”