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Colorado LGBT advocates say DOJ’s stance on employment discrimination ‘reckless’

DENVER -- President Donald Trump is continuing what gay advocates call an assault against the LGBT community.

The U.S. Justice Department changed course Wednesday from an Obama administration interpretation of federal law that does not protect gay people from employment discrimination.

One of the nation’s most significant LGBT advocacy groups, headquartered in Denver, characterized the move as reckless and something that creates real harm for the community.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation's mission is to erase hate by replacing it with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

The Department of Justice filed a court brief on Wednesday saying federal laws do not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The new position contradicts a previous interpretation of Title VII under the Obama administration.

“This Title VII [case] didn’t require anything from the DOJ,” said Sara Grossman of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “They kind of just pushed themselves into it and there was no reason for it.”

Strict Constitution originalists and current DOJ staffers said federal employment law says nothing about sexual orientation, and if changes are to be made, it should be up to Congress -- not the courts.

Some states have protections for gays, but advocates said nationwide legislation is needed. The fact an American can be fired for being gay is sparking concern.

“Not everybody in Sweet Home Alabama or Mississippi or Indiana -- where they don’t have these protections -- can up and move to a place where there are these protections,” Grossman said.

Wednesday’s brief was filed in a case over gay rights between an employee and his boss.

In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said sexual orientation discrimination was illegal. The DOJ said Wednesday the commission does not speak on behalf of the United States.