In One Day, Trump Administration Lands 3 Punches Against Gay Rights

“Yesterday was this administration’s anti-L.G.B.T. day,” James D. Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, said on Thursday. “Whether 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.”

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. Trump’s 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. Trump’s predecessor, who repeatedly used administrative actions and legal arguments to press for protections for gays and lesbians.

And taken together, the administration’s 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. Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from the military. The president, he said in a statement, should be praised for “rescuing 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.”

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 “the most cynical of dog-whistle politics” and an effort to “rile up the president’s base as this…

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