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House Conservatives Want LGBTQ Protections Removed From U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Pact

Dozens of U.S. House conservatives are protesting a clause in the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) that would protect LGBTQ workers from discrimination, Politico reports.

“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” says a letter signed by 40 members of Congress, including Iowa Rep. Steve King, to President Donald Trump. “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.”

Although Trump has touted USMCA as “terrific” and “the biggest trade deal in the United States history,” conservative lawmakers wrote that they were “deeply concerned” about language related to “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in it—saying that it is at odds with the administration’s previous moves.

Last year, the Department of Justice rolled back LGBTQ protections by claiming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn’t protect workers from protection based on sexual orientation. Trump also reversed an Obama administration directive aimed at protecting transgender students at school and signed a ban of transgender recruits in the military.

The letter also cited the administration’s narrowing definition of gender both via a 2017 Justice Department memo declaring sex to be defined as “biologically male or female,” and a report from the Department of Health and Human Services last month that said, “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

(The leaked Health Department report prompted almost 200 companies to sign a letter of their own asking the Trump administration to protect transgender rights.)

Trump has yet to comment on the clauses in the USMCA.