Tom Price's confirmation as health secretary is a bad sign for LGBTQ Americans
On Friday morning, Tom Price was sworn in as secretary of health and human services after a vote that took place while most of America was asleep. Price is now the newest member of the richest cabinet in U.S. history — and, as it turns out, one of many in the Trump administration who opposes LGBTQ rights.
Even a quick glance at his stance on most issues might cause LGBTQ Americans to worry. As a member of Congress from Georgia, he voted to allow job discrimination based on sexual orientation and voted to define marriage constitutionally as between one man and one woman.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative called Price a "longtime opponent" of LGBTQ rights who has "consistently supported efforts to use religion to discriminate." The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group dedicated to LGBTQ rights, gave Price a 0 rating — out of 100! — three years in a row when it came to defending queer rights in Congress.
As health secretary, Price will be key in Republicans' plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which will take a toll on the health of America's queer and transgender population. The Affordable Care Act currently helps transgender Americans access health insurance by prohibiting gender-based discrimination and by barring discrimination based on a preexisting condition — such as gender dysphoria, a medical diagnosis that many transgender people receive.
Price has also used his own Facebook to call Obama's historic directive to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity in public schools "absurd."
In 2013, while on a conference call with Tea Party Unity, Price responded to a statement from Rabbi Noson Leiter, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on marriage equality, in which the rabbi decried the "tremendous" medical and economic costs that would come with promoting the "homosexual agenda." Price affirmed the rabbi, saying:
Yes, thank you rabbi and you're absolutely right. The consequences of activity that has been seen as outside the norm are real and must be explored completely and in their entirety prior to moving forward with any social legislation that would alter things. I'm always struck by people who wake up one morning and think that they've got a grand new way of doing something when as you all know that the tried and true traditions in history that made us great are preserved and have survived because they are effective. I hear you, medical health and costs; you talk about a huge cost-driver to state pensions and other things, many of these areas would significantly alter state balance sheets.
Now that he's been confirmed, Price will join fellow homophobe Mike Pence and conversion therapy supporter Betsy DeVos in the Cabinet of President Donald Trump, whose only outreach to LGBTQ Americans has been to pit them against Muslim Americans.