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Trump professes love for 'LGBT' communities

The Trump administration's decision to challenge an interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that says private companies can't fire someone because of their sexual orientation feels mean-spirited, blatantly discriminatory and, no less bizarre, like an inexplicable attempt to revive a battle that conservatives have already lost.

A massive survey of more than 40,000 Americans released in March by the Public Religion Research Institute found solid to large majorities in every state in the union opposed to allowing discrimination in housing, public accommodations and the workplace based on sexual orientation. Overall, 56% of Republicans agreed, including 63% of young Republicans.

The nominal reason the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in is based on legal parsing: the claim that the 1964 law's language banning discrimination "because of sex" is narrowly focused on gender discrimination. But a simple test establishes why an interpretation that includes sexual orientation is appropriate. Should employees be allowed to treat significant numbers of men and women differently solely because they are attracted to members of their own gender? No — because stereotyping of individuals based on their gender is of course gender discrimination.

Given that the Supreme Court has upheld gay marriage as a civil right — and that President Donald Trump has said that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's marriage to a man is "absolutely fine"— it's plain Trump sees this stand less as a principled defense of strict constructionism than as an attempt to please the socially conservative evangelical voters who have somehow emerged as the biggest fans of the locker-room-talking, hush-money-paying New Yorker in the White House.

In 2004, President George W. Bush won reelection by courting the same group after Republicans got ballot measures opposing same-sex marriage on the ballot in 11 states, goosing turnout. Thankfully, 15 years later, more Americans grasp that seeking to demonize and allow punishment of members of the LBGTQ+ community simply because of who they are is repugnant.

A lot has changed since the Civil Rights Act was adopted in 1964. You know what hasn't? An honest day's work should be just that.

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This editorial originally appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune. 

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