Campaigners have urged the US Senate to block Donald Trump’s nominee of a lawyer who opposed LGBT civil rights protections for a key civil rights role.
Eric S. Dreiband has been nominated to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
The shocking announcement comes despite Dreiband’s long history of defending corporations against discrimination lawsuits.
The lawyer battled against the Obama Administration in defence of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, while he has also lobbied to limit the powers of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
An open letter signed by nearly 50 LGBT groups and organisations raises concerns with the nomination.
It says: “Mr. Dreiband’s overwhelmingly anti-civil rights record and his personal involvement in cases seeking to diminish the rights of LGBT people and other vulnerable communities strongly suggests that he will continue to promote the anti-civil rights agenda of this administration.
“Mr. Dreiband chose to represent the University of North Carolina when it was sued by civil rights groups and the U.S. Department of Justice after North Carolina passed a law (HB2) restricting transgender people’s ability to access public restrooms.
“The nomination of an attorney who volunteered to join a litigation team seeking to frustrate the Civil Rights Division’s efforts to defend transgender people from discrimination is insulting not only to the LGBT community but to the career men and women of the Division who valiantly litigated that case for many months.
“His nomination embodies this Justice Department’s lack of commitment to defending the civil rights of LGBT people.”
The letter warns that his stance on LGBT rights is “only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to this nominee.
The lawyer has also represented Abercrombie & Fitch when it tried to force Muslim employees to remove their headscarves, while separately fighting a case on behalf of evangelical Christians seeking to establish religious ‘exemptions’ from Obamacare provisions on birth control.
The letter adds: “The Senate, however, need not roll over and let this happen.
“This body has an important role to play in deciding what direction the Civil Rights Division, the Department of Justice, and by extension, our country will go.
“Faced with the question of who will lead the Civil Rights Division, the Senate has an opportunity to send its own message, a message that communicates clearly and emphatically that civil rights enforcement is a key government function, and that the Department of Justice must protect and defend the rights of all citizens, not just those who command the President’s attention.
“Mr. Dreiband, with his track record of impeding and resisting civil rights, is simply not the right man for the job.”
The Justice Department has taken a strong stance against LGBT rights under the Trump administration.
As well as arguing against rights protections for transgender children, the Department recently intervened in a gay employee’s discrimination legal battle – to argue that he should not have civil rights protections.