âYesterday was this administrationâs anti-L.G.B.T. day,â James D. Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Unionâs Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, said on Thursday. âWhether coordinated or not, to have it all happen on the same day certainly brings into focus the profoundly anti-L.G.B.T. agenda of this administration.â
Administration officials insisted that the timing of the three actions was coincidental. Wednesday just happened to be the deadline for the Justice Department to submit briefs in the employment discrimination case, they said, and Mr. Trumpâs tweets about transgender troops unexpectedly skipped past lawmakers and the military brass who were considering the issue.
But whether by accident or intent, the result was a striking reversal from Mr. Trumpâs predecessor, who repeatedly used administrative actions and legal arguments to press for protections for gays and lesbians.
And taken together, the administrationâs actions are a prize for religious conservatives who backed Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign but were far more enamored of his vice-presidential pick, Mike Pence.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a group that advocates socially conservative and Christian causes, applauded Mr. Trumpâs decision to bar transgender people from the military. The president, he said in a statement, should be praised for ârescuing our troops from the grip of the Obama years and restoring a sense of true pride to a military devastated by two terms of social engineering.â
For Mr. Trump, the issue of transgender service in the military affects a fraction of the population but may resonate with his core political supporters.
Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ban and other moves were âthe most cynical of dog-whistle politicsâ and an effort to ârile up the presidentâs base as this…