Twelve senators have sent a letter to Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, protesting the appointment of Roger Severino as director of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS.
Severino, the former head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation (yes, as in Betsy DeVos, Trump’s know-nothing secretary of Education), has been a longtime and vocal opponent of transgender equality in healthcare, military service, and access to public accommodations. He even refers to to transgender nondiscrimination protections as a “radical social experiment.”
The letter describes Severino’s “long history of making bigoted statements” about the LGBTQ community and states that his hire raises “deep concerns” about the Trump administration’s hiring practices. It comes on the heels of statements from LGBTQ advocates and the House LGBT Caucus, which also expressed alarm over Severino’s appointment.
In a 2016 report that he co-authored, Severino claimed that protections which include gender stereotyping and gender identity confer “special privileges” and violates the “religious liberty and freedom of conscience” of healthcare providers. As director of OCR, he would immediately nullify all such protections.
The senators wrote:
Mr. Severino’s past statements, writings, and affiliations make him unqualified to lead an office whose purpose is to ensure that “people have equal access and opportunities to participate in certain health care and human services programs without unlawful discrimination.”
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