An anti-LGBT amendment didn’t make into the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed on Friday. But the amendment’s author, U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), told Buzzfeed News today he’s been assured by the incoming Trump administration that his legislation has a future:
“These issues will be resolved, and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward,” Russell said at the Capitol, suggesting Trump could take executive action without waiting for Congress. “I am certainly encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound.”
The Russell Amendment is intended to undermine an Obama executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. ThinkProgress reported at the time that the order extended protections to over a million workers, but social conservatives, including Russell, have demanded carve-outs for religiously-affiliated contractors. If President-elect Trump eventually signs a version of the amendment or otherwise rolls back Obama’s executive order, these contractors will again be able to practice certain forms of discrimination despite receiving public funds for their work.
Russell’s optimism probably isn’t just a manifestation of his small-minded hopes and dreams. Mike Pence is poised to be an influential vice president, and he isn’t the only member of Trump’s incoming administration with ties to the religious right. That has disturbing implications for the future of separation of church and state—and LGBT rights.