Just a few years ago, LGBTQ rights in the United States were moving ahead at a fast clip. The Supreme Court in 2015 upheld marriage equality, states and local jurisdictions were implementing laws to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination and the administration of President Barack Obama promoted policies friendly to LGBTQ concerns.
Then came the election of Donald Trump. Trump, who rode into office in part with high levels of support from white evangelicals, immediately began chipping away at LGBTQ rights.
Despite Trump’s dismal track record in this area, a few days ago he received the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ group. Many supporters of gay rights are having none of this, however. Today’s Washington Post contains a powerful rebuttal from Michelangelo Signorile, an LGBTQ rights activist and radio talk show host.
“The Trump administration’s continued assaults on LGBTQ rights are nothing short of breathtaking,” wrote Signorile. “And yet, Trump’s supporters who don’t want to acknowledge this aspect of the administration find ways to bury this part of his record in the chaos.”
Signorile is correct. The facts speak for themselves. And when it comes to LGBTQ rights, the facts are clear: Trump’s record has been nothing short of appalling. (For a full rundown of Trump’s assaults on the LGBTQ community, see this story from the December issue of Church & State and this editorial from the July-August issue, which focuses on Trump’s erosion of transgender rights.)
There are two aspects of Trump’s record that are worth highlighting because they are especially dangerous to the LGBTQ community.
The first is a series of regulatory changes the administration has implemented that foster discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community at every turn. We saw another example of this just last week when the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to allow federal contractors to engage in employment discrimination with tax dollars by citing “religious freedom” to justify firing or refusing to hire LGBTQ people.
As Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser put it, “Today, the Trump administration puts yet another stain on religious freedom. Because today, the Department of Labor, whose job it is to prevent employment discrimination, has announced a new rule to fund it with our taxpayer dollars.”
And while this rule could affect just about anyone, including single moms, members of religious minority groups and non-theists, the LGBTQ community is likely to take the hardest hit.
That proposed rule is just one example. The Trump administration also sided with South Carolina by allowing the state to funnel taxpayer money to an evangelical foster care agency that discriminates against LGBTQ people, members of other Christian denominations, non-Christians, non-theists and others. It is expected that this rule will soon be extended nationwide.
The second way Trump is decimating LGBTQ rights is through his appointments to the federal courts. Trump has nominated judges who have been vetted by anti-LGBTQ rights religious groups or who, in some cases, used to work for these organizations.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump said he’d be willing to name a Supreme Court justice who favored overturning the marriage equality ruling. His two appointments – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – haven’t faced that issue yet, but during the high court’s next term, the justices will hear major cases dealing with whether a federal law that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex protects LGBTQ people. The Trump administration has asked the court to rule that it does not.
The Associated Press (AP) yesterday ran a story about Trump’s constant efforts to placate religious extremists, a movement whose members utterly despise LGBTQ people and often trade in crude homophobia. As we noted yesterday, they remain Trump’s biggest allies. Eighty-one percent of white evangelicals supported Trump in 2016, while only 14 percent of LGBTQ Americans cast ballots for him. Common sense tells us which side he’ll placate.
AU’s Laser told the AP that for the Religious Right, “Every day is Christmas.” She’s right. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, the days are often as scary as Halloween. For members of the LGBTQ community, it’s especially bad. Anyone whose eyes are not blinded by religious extremist ideology, delusional thinking or fake news can plainly see that.