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Easy Targets

Last week the Trump administration continued its attack on fairness and equality, this time against the elderly -- same sex spouses who live in nursing homes. Why not pick on vulnerable old people, especially those who are gay? Hell, they'll be easy targets!

So with that apparent mindset, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Seema Verma announced the Trump administration was withdrawing a 2014 Obama administration rule intended to make sure same-sex spouses are treated the same as opposite-sex spouses in long-term care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds.

This article in The Advocate provides more details. The rule was proposed after a Supreme Court decision struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

In proposing the rule, Obama’s HHS wanted to assure that long-term care providers did not defer to state law on same-sex marriage, since it was not recognized by all states. However, the Trump administration contends that the high court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, is sufficient to assure equal treatment of all spouses.

“We believe that the Obergefell decision has addressed many of the concerns raised in the December 2014 proposed rule,” Verma wrote in withdrawing the measure.

However, some LGBT advocates argue that the rule is still needed as it specifically includes anti-discrimination language.

“The Supreme Court has previously found that the practice of specifically naming the groups who are protected from discrimination is essential for a nondiscrimination law to have its intended effect,” noted a press release from Boston’s Fenway Health.

“It could not be more clear that the proposed CMS rule on the rights of LGBT patients and residents is still needed,” said Stephen L. Boswell, president and CEO of Fenway Health. “By rescinding this important guidance, the likelihood has increased that LGBT people and same-sex couples will experience discrimination, neglect and abuse in long-term care, nursing homes, and hospitals.”

This comes, of course, in the aftermath of President Trump’s order to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and its intervention in an employment lawsuit stating that federal anti-discrimination laws do not cover people suing based on sexual orientation.

It is clear that the Trump administration cares little about fairness and justice for all, unless they are talking about people who are straight, white, male and politically conservative.

I just wonder why they bothered to do this. Trump is always worried about appealing to "my people." Maybe that's why.

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