Republican pressure on President Donald Trump to drop protections for LGBTQ workers from the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada appears to have had the desired effect: The agreement Trump signed last week essentially exempts the U.S. from providing any such protections.
The trilateral United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) deal was made public on November 30 as it was signed by Trump, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
However, Canada’s Global News notes that changes have been made to discrimination provisions from a previously-published draft, significantly watering down lines that refer to LGBT+ rights protections.
The US has no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Republican lawmakers had threatened to nuke the trilateral deal if it required such protections to be put in place.
Where the initial draft said each country would commit to “policies that protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including with regard to pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, [and] gender identity,” the signed agreement says the countries will implement “policies that it considers appropriate to protect workers against employment discrimination” based on those characteristics.
A new footnote explicitly clarifies that no changes would be required to law in the United States, addressing Republican fears that they would be compelled to pass LGBT+ civil rights protections.
It says: “The United States’ existing federal agency policies regarding the hiring of federal workers are sufficient to fulfil the obligations set forth in this Article.
“The Article thus requires no additional action on the part of the United States, including any amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in order for the United States to be in compliance with the obligations set forth in this Article.”
Forty Republican congressmen signed a letter last month urging Trump to drop the language surrounding LGBTQ workers, saying they were “deeply concerned… by the unprecedented inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity language for the first time in a Free Trade Agreement.”
It adds: “A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy.
“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.”
Without full Republican support, it is possible the agreement would fail to receive the necessary congressional approval.