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Civil Rights

LGBTQ+ Protections Restored by Biden Administration

— May 27, 2024

The president has put into place expanded protections for gay and transgender patients.

The access to medical care should not be dependent on or influenced by the identities of each individual. Historically, those who are LGBTQ+ have not always had the same rights and access to care as everyone else, but that situation should soon be improved thanks to a new rule that has expanded protections in the healthcare realm for those in such categories. Implementing this new rule does not mean that all issues of discrimination will be eliminated overnight, of course, but it’s a step in the right direction and hopefully a sign of progress that will continue in the years to come.

At the heart of this change is actually a move back to a rule that was previously in place. These protections stem originally from the Obama era but were revoked by the Trump administration in 2020. So, now that the rule is put back in, the protections are restored for people within the affected categories. This is part of the Affordable Care Act that bans discrimination in health programs based on a range of factors, including gender identity and sexual orientation.

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

This change also puts the current rules in alignment with a 2020 ruling by the Supreme Court. That ruling upheld the civil rights protections of LGBTQ+ individuals and was hailed by advocacy groups as a win for civil rights. Now that the healthcare rules are in better alignment with that ruling, there will hopefully be more protection in place for the people who need it most. The battle for people in groups that are defined by gender identity and sexual orientation to have the same rights as everyone else has been a long and difficult one, and it certainly isn’t over with the implementation of this new rule. To that end, it’s possible that a future administration could undo some of this progress, as has happened before.

It should be noted that there is still an exemption within this rule that can be applied by individual healthcare providers on the basis of religious beliefs. While that might seem like a small footnote, it seems likely that the exemption within the law is going to cause some issues and might be the impetus for future legal action from one side of this matter or the other. Most healthcare providers are likely to simply follow the letter of the law, but when one does use their religious beliefs as a reason not to provide care, any of a number of outcomes are possible.

Society as a whole continues to have a long way to go in terms of overall equality, both in healthcare as well as in the bigger picture of how people are treated and represented in the world. Each small step should be celebrated, then, as a move towards a better future that will allow everyone to be who they really are without any fear of the implications that their identity could have on their lives.


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