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Trump Administration Could Embolden Anti-LGBT Republicans After a Year of Congressional Deadlock

Donald Trump
David Goldman/AP

Representatives who support “religious freedom” policies feel better about their chances of passing potentially harmful laws next year.

Despite losing a "religious freedom" amendment in the latest defense budget passed Friday, Republicans in Congress are confident such legislation will have better support from the White House once Donald Trump takes office.

According to a report by BuzzFeed News, Rep. Steve Russell, who proposed the amendment, said he that he was "encouraged by the signs that I am getting from the administration that is inbound."

These "religious freedom" amendments would function much like their state-level counterparts (one of which vice president-elect Mike Pence himself passed while governor of Indiana). Essentially, the federal government could not refuse to grant a contract to an agency based on religious beliefs. But in many versions of this policy, the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman is the only explicitly protected religious belief, leading many LGBT advocates to be concerned these policies will lead to more business for discriminatory contractors.

Trump himself has not said much on the topic, but he is stacking his cabinet with plenty of anti-LGBT sympathizers. And Trump has explicitly promised in his first 100 days to roll back any of Obama's executive actions he considers "unconstitutional"--which could include the federal non-discrimination policies protecting sexuality and gender identity.

In Congress, Republicans and Democrats have tussled over the past year to bring LGBT rights into commonplace appropriations bills--the only accomplishment being that one side effectively blocks the other. In May, Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney lost a non-discrimination amendment in a defense budget vote, but won a similar amendment attached to an energy and water bill involving federal contracts.

But it looks like Repubicans in the House are hopeful the back-and-forth with Trump in the White House.

"These issues will be resolved, and we have gotten some very good assurances moving forward," Russell told BuzzFeed News.

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