By CHRIS JOHNSON
To the shock of political observers and LGBT rights supporters who expected his defeat, Donald Trump claimed a surprise victory Nov. 8 against Hillary Clinton in his bid for the White House.
Speaking to supporters in New York City, Trump said Clinton called him to concede the election and he congratulated her on a “very, very on a hard-fought campaign.”
“Now it’s come for America to bind the wounds of division, who have to get together, to all Republicans and Democrats and Independent across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one, united people,” Trump said.
Trump’s victory could place in jeopardy the advances on LGBT rights seen during eight years of the Obama administration, many of which were accomplished as a result of executive action from President Obama that Trump could undo. Also threatening LGBT rights is continued Republican control of both chambers of Congress, which will now have an unimpeded path to pass anti-LGBT legislation with no Democrat in the White House.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, said in a statement many people in the United States and worldwide “will be shocked, disappointed and frankly frightened by the election of Donald Trump.”
“His remarks over the course of the campaign including his sexist, racist, and xenophobic comments, as well as his mocking of people with disabilities and his dehumanization of Muslims leave many of us deeply disturbed,” Carey said. “Make no mistake about it, this will also give us a roadmap for fair-minded, moral, compassionate people to come together like never before and fight. It will take longer, it will be harder, but rest assured that united and working in partnership with people of good conscience, we will get there,”
Despite his campaign being criticized for its racist appeals, Trump developed a reputation for largely avoiding opposition to LGBT rights. Unlike many of his 16 competitors for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump refused to endorse a U.S. constitutional amendment against the Supreme Court’s marriage decision. When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ahead of the Indiana primary stoked fears of transgender people using the restroom, Trump stayed away from that line of messaging.
In the week before the election, Trump at a Colorado rally unfurled and waved an upside-down rainbow Pride flag bearing “LGBTs for Trump,” although he never backed up that action with any explicit commitment to LGBT rights.
For abstaining from explicit LGBT attacks over the course of his campaign, Trump’s (admittedly few) LGBT supporters dubbed him the most pro-LGBT Republican presidential nominee in history.
National Log Cabin Republicans, which had withheld its endorsement from Trump, congratulated the president-elect in a statement upon news of his victory.
“Mr. Trump’s unprecedented and repeated overtures to ‘the LGBTQ community’ were invariably lauded by our organization, and we look forward to seeing those words turn to action in a Trump administration,” the statement says. “We likewise stand firm in our unwavering commitment to working with our country’s president-elect to ensure the historic advances in LGBT freedom we have fought for and secured will continue.”
But Trump, in addition to cultivating relationships with social conservative leaders known for their opposition to LGBT rights, pledged to appoint to the Supreme Court justices in the mold of the late U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. The candidate endorsed federal “religious freedom” legislation known as the First Amendment Defense Act, said he’s “with the state” on North Carolina’s HB2 law and threatened to roll back the Obama administration’s executive action on behalf of LGBT people.
In a February 2016 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Trump urged social conservatives to trust him to oppose same-sex marriage, calling the Supreme Court decision in favor of gay nuptials “shocking.”
“I was very much in favor of having the court rule that it goes to states, and let the states decide,” Trump said. “And that was a shocking decision for you and for me and for a lot of other people, but I was very much in favor of letting the states decide and that’s the way it looked it was going and then all of a sudden out of nowhere came this very massive decision and they took it away. But I was always in favor of state’s rights; states deciding.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called upon Trump in a statement to cast aside the divisiveness of his campaign and choose a different path for his presidency,
“Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have intentionally sowed fear and division for cynical political purposes. They now face a decision about whether they will also govern that way. We hope, for the sake of our nation and our diverse community — which includes women, people of color, those with disabilities, immigrants, and people of all faiths and traditions — they will choose a different path.
Clinton and Trump were granted the same opportunity to participate in an interview with the Washington Blade, but Trump, unlike Clinton, never delivered responses after being sent questions even though his campaign said he would answer them.
Inauguration Day is Jan. 20.