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    BREAKING: Jeff Sessions Rescinds Obama-Era Government Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination

    DOJ Proves It Does Not Support LGBT Civil Rights or Even Understand Them

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    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an Obama-era government policy that stated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender people in the workplace from discrimination.

    In 2014 then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo stating: "I have determined that the best reading of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of ... sex’ includes discrimination because an employee's gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

    As Buzzfeed News' Dominic Holden first reported, Sessions on Wednesday rescinded that government policy.

    “Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” the Sessions memo reads. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy...As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

    As Holden points out, "the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well."

    The Sessions memo also states: “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

    As Attorney General, Sessions has wide latitude to interpret federal laws and decide how they should be enforced. For example, both Attorney General Holder and President Barack Obama came to the conclusion that DOMA, the 1996 law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, was unconstitutional. They refused to defend the law in court. 

    Proving the Dept. of Justice under Attorney General Sessions has no desire to support or even understand LGBT civil rights, a DOZJ spokesperson explained to Buzzfeed its reasoning for rescinding the 2014 memo protecting transgender workers.

    “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided," the DOJ's Devin O’Malley told Buzzfeed. "Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today's action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

    Gender identity is different from sexual orientation. So, the DOJ explanation has nothing to do with protecting transgender people.

    UPDATE:
    ThinkProgress has a copy of the full memo.

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