The nation’s largest LGBT rights group is officially opposing a second member of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet, an announcement that is unlikely to derail the pick for Health and Human Services but a move to raise questions about how Tom Price might run the department.
The letter of opposition was sent to Congressional offices Tuesday evening, on the eve of Price’s confirmation hearing to become the 23rd person in the position that oversees drug manufacturers, Medicare and Medicaid, federal research labs and Head Start programs. In the role, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin warns lawmakers, Price could hurt gay and lesbian constituents if he directs his department to reverse actions taken in the last eight years that expanded rights for LGBT patients.
“It is essential that the next Secretary exhibit a true commitment to meeting these challenges with policies based on science and research, a dedication to ensuring equal access to healthcare, and a vision for compassionate leadership. Representative Price’s record shows that he’s clearly not up to the job,” Griffin wrote in a letter obtained by TIME.
At risk are rules that require hospitals that take Medicare and Medicaid dollars to allow same-sex spouses the same visitation rights as others, how insurance plans have to treat same-sex couples, and funding for research working to eradicate HIV/ AIDS, of whom two-thirds of new cases are gay and bisexual men. The vast department, if it decided to, could make life incredibly difficult for LGBT Americans.
Price’s record as a congressman from Georgia is hardly one the Human Rights Campaign and its allies would cheer. He is among the most conservative members of the House and called Obama-era protections for transgender individuals “absurd” and “a clear invasion of privacy.” He was critical of the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave same-sex couples the right to wed. He has voted repeatedly against hate crimes legislation, non-discrimination bills and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The Human Rights Campaign earlier told Congress to reject Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Sessions is likely to win confirmation.