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Trump Appoints Radical Anti-LGBTQ Activist to Lead HHS Civil Rights Office

HRC blasted President Trump’s decision to appoint anti-LGBTQ activist Roger Severino to lead the division charged with enforcing civil rights law at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Trump quietly selected Severino this week to serve as Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS. Severino’s extreme views opposing transgender people and women’s rights have garnered praise and prominence from the far right.

Until this week, Severino served as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society for the Heritage Foundation where he wrote scathing opinions on transgender issues, abortion rights, and gay marriage. He repeatedly denounced and worked to oppose OCR’s implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which provides critical non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and sex stereotyping  in federally-funded health programs. He also referred to the Obama Administration’s guidance to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity as a “radical social experiment.

Severino is also a staunch opponent of access to contraception and other sexual and reproductive health services, opposing the ACA’s contraceptive access provision and calling for defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I could not think of a more dangerous person to head up the Office of Civil Rights at HHS,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of HRC. “Once again, Donald Trump is declaring war against our community by appointing anti-LGBTQ people at all levels of his administration. Mr. Severino takes pride in being a stark opponent of the LGBTQ community and has made it clear that his number one priority is to vilify and degrade us. We will fight tooth and nail against any attempts to roll back civil rights including access to healthcare.”

The head of HHS, Secretary Tom Price, has a long, disturbing record of opposing basic civil rights for LGBTQ people and is serving in a position of unique importance to the LGBTQ community.

This appointment is yet another example of President Trump’s increasingly long list of anti-LGBTQ extremist nominees who are in a position of power to roll back progress and do harm to LGBTQ people.