These 38 GOP Lawmakers Want LGBT Protections Removed From the New NAFTA Deal

A group of 38 Republican lawmakers have signed a letter calling on President Donald Trump to scrap protections for LGBTQ workers included in the newly negotiated trade proposal with Mexico and Canada. 

“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” Republican lawmakers state in the letter, which was published on Friday. “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept."

The new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump reached with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October, currently includes a provision protecting workers against "sex discrimination," including discrimination on the basis of "gender identity." 

GettyImages-1067575310 Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, talks to reporters following leadership elections in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 14 in Washington, D.C. The Republican is one of 38 GOP Congress members to sign a letter protesting LGBTQ protections in a new NAFTA deal. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The deal represents the first U.S. trade agreement to include such a provision, Politico  reported, with the inclusion championed by Trudeau in particular. 

Referring to the Trump administration's apparent efforts to "restore the historic definition of 'sex' to a person's anatomical sex at birth," the Republicans said in their letter that they were "deeply" troubled that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has included "contradictory language" in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"As a sovereign nation, the United States has the right to decide when, whether and how to tackle issues of civil rights, protected classes and workplace rights," Republicans said in their letter. 

"At the same time, your Administration is carrying out a cohesive agenda regarding policies surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, in the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services specifically, it is deeply troubling that the Office of the U.S.Trade Representative (USTR) has included contradictory language in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement," they continue. 

To drive their argument, the GOP lawmakers point to an October 2017 Department of Justice memorandum asserting that "sex" is "ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female." 

"Additionally, encouraging recent reports indicate that the Department of Health and Human Services is working to restore the historic definition of 'sex' to a person's anatomical sex at birth," the letter said. 

The Republicans warned that including "sex discrimination" in the trade agreement could "cause unnecessary confusion in future international treaties as well as domestic laws and policies," in addition to setting a "dangerous precedent for courts and future Administrations to build upon."

These are the 38 GOP members of Congress who have signed onto the letter: 

  • Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado's 5th Congressional District 
  • Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri's 4th Congressional District
  • Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina's 6th Congressional District 
  • Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina's 11th Congressional District
  • Representative Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama's 4th Congressional District
  • Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois's 14th Congressional District
  • Representative Jody Hice of Georgia's 10th Congressional District
  • Representative Andy Harris, M.D. of Maryland's 1st Congressional District
  • Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas' 11th Congressional District
  • Representative Randy K. Weber of Texas' 14th Congressional District
  • Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida's 1st Congressional District
  • Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas's 1st Congressional District
  • Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina's 3rd Dongressional District
  • Representative Daniel Webster of Florida's 11th Congressional District
  • Representative Diane Black of Tennessee's 6th Congressional District
  • Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina's 5th Congressional District
  • Representative Walter B. Jones of North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District
  • Representative Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. of Arizona's 4th Congressional District
  • Representative Brian Babin of Texas' 36th Congressional District
  • Representative Bob Gibbs of Ohio's 7th Congressional District
  • Representative Joe Barton of Texas' 6th Congressional District
  • Representative Tim Walberg of Michigan's 7th Congressional District
  • Representative Doug LaMalfa of California's 1st Congressional District
  • Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina's 8th Congressional District
  • Representative Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District
  • Representative Gary Palmer of Alabama's 6th Congressional District
  • Representative Ted S. Yoho, DVM of Florida's 3rd Congressional District
  • Rep. Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia's 2nd congressional district
  • Representative Steve King of Iowa's 4th Congressional District
  • Representative Bruce Westerman of Arkansas' 4th Congressional District
  • Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas' 21st congressional district
  • Representative Rick Crawford of Arkansas's 1st Congressional District
  • Representative Ralph Abraham, M.D., of Louisiana's 5th Congressional District
  • Representative Barry Loudermilk of Georgia's 11th Congressional District
  • Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina's 5th Congressional District
  • Representative Debbie Lesko of Arizona's 8th Congressional District
  • Representative Steven M. Palazzo of Mississippi's 4th Congressional District
  • Representative Tom McClintock of California's 4th Congressional District

Read more: With Kyrsten Sinema's Election, LGBT Representation in Congress Hits Double Digits

Rep. Roger Williams of the Texas 25th congressional district and Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio's 8th congressional district are listed on the letter but they did not sign it.

The letter has not been well-received by Democrats, with Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) reportedly slamming it as "despicable."

Speaking to The Washington Blade, Hammill said "this despicable letter is more of the same from a Republican Congress with open contempt for the humanity of the LGBTQ community.

"It enrages these GOP Members that LGBTQ Americans should be treated with respect and dignity under the law," Hammill said, adding: "They are on the wrong side of history, and come January, they will be on the wrong side of the newly elected House majority."

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