BY LOU CHIBBARO JR., WASHINGTON BLADE
Stephen Bannon, whose appointment by President Trump as White House chief strategist was described by activists as “toxic” for the LGBT community, was forced out of his job this week by Trump, according to multiple media reports.
At the time of his appointment following Trump’s election in November, Bannon was known as a leading figure in the so called “alt-right” conservative movement and as executive chair of the conservative website Breitbart News, which, among other things, has published articles critical of LGBT rights.
Many of the nation’s leading progressive and civil rights organizations condemned the appointment, saying Bannon has expressed views supportive of white nationalists. They noted that former KKK leader David Duke praised his appointment when Trump’s transition team announced it last November.
Trump administration sources over the past two weeks told media outlets that Trump had become dissatisfied with Bannon and was particularly angry over an interview that Bannon gave earlier this week appearing to mock Trump’s positions on North Korea.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure in a statement released on Friday, but she said the decision for him to leave was mutual.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Sanders said in the statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” the statement said.
“A radical white nationalist like Steve Bannon should never have been put in a position of public trust in any White House,” said JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president for policy and political affairs.
“His removal was necessary, but make no mistake, the bigotry in the White House goes far beyond one person,” Winterhof said. “President Trump and Vice President Pence continue to push forward the same dangerous and hateful vision for America and the world that Steve Bannon embodies.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a national LGBT media advocacy organization, said in a statement the views advocated by Bannon had a negative impact on LGBT people and other minorities.
“Steve Bannon has built a career peddling white nationalism and placing large targets on the backs of marginalized communities, including LGBTQ people,” Ellis said in her statement.
“From Day One, President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ activists aimed at strengthening institutional discrimination and erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation.”
Ellis added, “Steve Bannon may have resigned, but the fact that he even held the position of White House Chief Strategist is chilling, completely unacceptable, and will not be forgotten.”
Gregory Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, took exception to claims that Bannon had a significant impact on the Trump administration’s positions on LGBT-related issues.
“It was always my understanding that Steve Bannon was neither a major player in support of pro-LGBT policy nor propagator of anti-LGBT policy at the White House, so his departure likely marks something of an inconsequential push,” Angelo told the Washington Blade.