Three LGBT advocacy groups are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the Trump administration’s refusal to enforce nondiscrimination protections covering federal grantees.
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread rapidly throughout the U.S., LGBTQ individuals of all ages are left vulnerable by the Trump administration’s illegal action, which implicitly permits discrimination when providing critical services,” the groups wrote Thursday in a news release. “This unlawful federal abandonment of the LGBTQ community is particularly dangerous now, and could have catastrophic, even deadly consequences. This license to discriminate could facilitate denial of services, such as home-delivered meals, access to shelters, and fostering a homeless child.”
Back in November, in response to complaints from religiously affiliated grantees, the Trump administration issued a notice of non-enforcement concerning the Obama-era nondiscrimination rule. The groups behind the lawsuit — Family Equality, True Colors United and SAGE — allege the notice violated the Administrative Procedure Act, in part because there was no opportunity for public comment.
More from the Washington Blade: Amid pervasive fears about the coronavirus, the three advocacy groups behind the lawsuit … enumerated in a news statement many situations in which the refusal to enforce the non-discrimination rule would negatively affect LGBTQ people. Among them are students being susceptible to anti-LGBTQ discrimination as they seek shelter under the HHS’ Runaway & Homeless Program, which could happen at a time when colleges and universities shut down housing to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the statement says. … Older adults, who are seen as particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, could also if they’re LGBTQ be subject to discrimination from home delivery providers at a time when senior centers are shutting down in major cities, the statement says.
The basis of the 39-page complaint — filed before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York — is the Trump’s administration refusal to enforce the Obama-rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act.