People For the American Way was among the nearly fifty national, state, and local LGBTQ and allied organizations that sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to the nomination of Eric Dreiband to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, citing the nomination as further evidence of the Trump administration’s disdain for civil rights. You can view and download this letter, with footnotes, here.
On behalf of Lambda Legal and the undersigned 46 national, state and local organizations serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and those living with HIV, we write to oppose the nomination of Eric S. Dreiband to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“Justice Department” or “DOJ”). Experienced and principled leadership is needed to ensure that the civil rights of our most vulnerable populations are protected and enforced. Mr. Dreiband’s record of opposing civil rights renders him ill-suited to provide that kind of leadership to the Civil Rights Division.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Division (“Division”). Throughout its history, the Division has defended and vindicated the civil rights of vulnerable Americans. In the face of increased violence and pervasive discrimination against LGBT people, our organizations know that the work of the Division is more important than ever. In response to this crisis, however, DOJ appears not only to have abandoned its obligation to defend civil rights, but has decided instead to use its authority to inflict additional harm on communities already under attack, including (but certainly not limited to) the LGBT community.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions began unraveling LGBT protections at the Justice Department on day one and has not stopped since. One of his first moves as Attorney General was to halt the Justice Department’s defense of important guidance documents clarifying the protections that exist in federal law for transgender people facing discrimination. Specifically, at Jeff Sessions’ direction, DOJ shamefully withdrew its challenge to a poorly reasoned decision from a federal district court in Texas that halted enforcement nationwide of the Department of Education’s guidance regarding transgender students, and cast doubt on other important federal guidance documents dealing with anti-LGBT discrimination. Shortly thereafter, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, along with his counterpart at the Department of Education, rescinded their joint Dear Colleague Letter, which had been providing important assistance to school officials about their obligations to transgender and gender non-conforming students under Title IX. Although the rescission of that letter did not alter the underlying protections that exist in federal law, the withdrawal of this guidance document has undermined the safety and well-being of every transgender student in this country.
DOJ continued its aggressive roll-back of LGBT protections by withdrawing its defense of the nondiscrimination regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act, which prohibited, among other things, discrimination in the provision of medically necessary health care to transgender people. Instead of vigorously defending the civil rights of transgender people, DOJ acquiesced to the district court’s order enjoining enforcement of these important protections, and asked the court to remand the case to the Department of Health and Human Services to “address the issues raised in the litigation,” by (among other things) considering the possibility of reopening these regulations. And just a few weeks ago, DOJ filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit urging that court to adopt an interpretation of Title VII that would deny protection to LGBT workers. In doing so, the Department directly contradicted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which for years has advanced the position that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The LGBT community is not the only group that has suffered as a result of the Department of Justice’s abdication of its role as a defender of civil rights. Read more via PFAW