Donald Trump’s promises to be friendly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer community as president sparked the absurd #GaysForTrump movement. Now we have definitive evidence from the past year that these promises were false.
As the chief executive, Trump’s actions have attempted to reverse progress made towards LGBTQ equality under previous administrations. He infamously attempted to reinstate a ban on openly transgender and transsexual soldiers enlisting in the military, using the faulty excuse that medical costs associated with transitioning put too much of a burden on the military’s budget. He rescinded an Obama-era public school guidance that guaranteed protection for trans students in K-12 schools under federal civil rights laws, reinvigorating the debates about trans bathroom rights in public places and trans protection under civil rights laws in general.
His actions did not only affect trans members of the queer community, Trump decided to fire all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS without replacing them, showing his lack of concern for a disease that has killed thousands in the queer community over the past few decades.
His influence has extended into the judicial branch of government as well. Activists predicted that Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, would not support LGBTQ rights in the courts. And while Gorsuch has proven to be as anti-LGBTQ as expected (he dissented in a case’s ruling that requires states to list same-sex parents on birth certificates), the Trump administration has gone beyond Gorsuch to express more direct opposition to queer rights.
According to Lambda Legal, almost one-third of Trump’s nominees to federal judge positions have anti-LGBTQ records. The Trump administration has already weighed in on important cases in the federal judiciary. For example, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief, a document from parties interested but not directly involved in the case that advises the court of relevant additional information or arguments, in the US Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit. The brief argued that skydiving instructor Donald Zarda was not protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after he claimed he was fired from his job at Altitude Express for being gay.
Also, as if Gorsuch was not enough, the administration also weighed in on one of the most important queer rights cases in the nation at the moment: the Supreme Court Case Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Division, in which the administration argued in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a business trying to claim the First Amendment protects their right to discriminate against gay customers in their stores. The Trump administration agreed with the cakeshop’s owner Jack Phillips, who claimed that his cakes are an expression of his opinions and he should be granted an exemption from anti-discrimination law, a policy that activists say could open a loophole for business to discriminate against queer and possibly other minority consumers. (For a more detailed list of Trump’s anti-LGBTQ infractions, check out this handy article from Vox)
If some people want to defend Trump by saying these are simply the actions of his administration and they don’t reflect the man himself, firstly, he decided to populate his administration with anti-LGBTQ figures like Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and many others. Also, consider Trump’s own words regarding the queer community. According to a report from the New Yorker, in a meeting with a legal scholar when the topic of discussion moved to gay rights, Trump joked about Pence’s homophobia, saying “Don’t ask that guy – he wants to hang them all!” On a lighter note, he also failed to recognize Pride month when it passed last June. Did he not have time to write a tweet?
As the evidence slowly mounts, do not forget where Trump’s positions on LGBTQ rights truly lie. Do not listen to the #GaysForTrump twitter accounts that see his policies through their primarily white, male and privileged lens. If he tries to make these promises when he runs for reelection in 2020, have the knowledge to call him out.