KEVIN LEVY, PUSHING FORWARD
Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump and his allies bemoaned Secretary Hillary Clinton for accepting money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Clinton Foundation citing Saudi Arabia’s horrible treatment of its gay population. Donald Trump was right to point out that Hillary Clinton was accepting money from the anti-LGBT and anti-woman regime while she was simultaneously promoting those rights abroad.
Also along the campaign trail, Candidate Trump boasted that he would be better for the LGBT community than Secretary Clinton as President. Since entering the White House, however, now-President Trump hasn’t lifted a finger for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Instead of advocating for the LGBT Community, President Trump has attempted to erase it from the narrative.
President Trump has continued a long trend of discrimination against LGBT people by keeping questions about gender identity and sexual orientation off of the 2020 U.S. Census. To get an accurate account of who lives in America, we need to actually count who lives in America. By comparison, the 2016 Census asked questions about the type of fuel that Americans use to heat their houses and about the type of plumbing facilities that Americans have in their homes.
President Trump also reversed his stance on protections for LGBT employees earlier this year when he signed an Executive Order reversing one signed by President Barack Obama that would have extended federal employment protections to LGBT employees working for federal contractors.
And one can’t forget the guidance signed by Trump appointees Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that reversed the Obama Administration’s position on bathroom usage by transgender students. Instead of fighting to ‘make America great again,’ President Trump’s team came after defenseless trans kids with the full weight and force of the federal government. The Trump Administration abandoned Gavin Grimm, the transgender student at the center of a federal lawsuit previously supported by the Obama Justice Department, with the new guidance, with its abandonment veiled in messages of “states’ rights.”
Perhaps, then, it is unsurprising that President Trump has yet to deign the nation with a Presidential Proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month, as President Obama had done for the past eight years. After a long and grueling campaign season, it looks like President Trump has forgotten that he promised to fight for the LGBT community and be supportive. More likely though is that he never meant it in the first place.
President Trump has only spoken about being pro-LGBT in reference to Islam. Whether it was his GOP Convention acceptance speech where he spoke about being pro-LGBT in order to protect the community from “from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology” (referring to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL) or attacking Secretary Clinton for accepting money from the anti-gay Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump’s pro-LGBT stances can’t be separated from his Islamophobic stances. Since his convention, President Trump and his allies have attempted to draw a line in the sand betweenLGBT and Muslim Americans in a zero sum game in which everyone loses.
Among some social justice circles, President Trump’s outreach to the LGBT Community would be best described as “performative allyship.” He will talk a good talk and occasionally put on a good stunt for LGBT people by unfurling a banner reading “LGBTs for Trump,” but when push came to shove, President Trump is nowhere to be seen and does more harm than good.
One meaningful item that President Trump could champion is the Equality Act which would extend federal employment and housing protections to LGBT people, among other things. This bi-partisan bill has 196 co-sponsors in the House and 46 co-sponsors in the Senate as of the publication of this article. Despite my earlier hopes that President Trump would support this effort, those hopes have dimmed. With former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon and Vice President Mike Pence whispering in President Trump’s ear, the idea that President Trump would move harshly in opposition to his own party’s anti-LGBT positions is now almost laughable.
A Presidential Proclamation consists of simply words on a page without any force of law. They don’t do anything. But they mean something. For this White House, June is National Homeownership Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, and African-American Music Appreciation Month. The President who has lauded himself as being an ally of the LGBT Community can’t bring himself to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month. And that’s nothing to be proud of.