In a surprise move, President Trump included in his speech before the United Nations on Tuesday his administration's global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in the more than 70 countries where it remains illegal.
"My administration is working with other nations to stop criminalizing of homosexuality," Trump said. "And we stand in solidarity with LGBT people who live in countries that punish, jail and execute people based upon sexual orientation."
The remarks mark the first time ever outside of Twitter Trump has acknowledged the global initiative, which is being spearheaded by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration.
.@POTUS @realDonaldTrump at #UNGA: "My administration is working with other nations to stop criminalizing of homosexuality and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that punish, jail or execute individuals based upon sexual orientation." pic.twitter.com/U3q8Ojvlam
— Gregory T. Angelo (@gregorytangelo) September 24, 2019
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the White House and Grenell seeking background on the decision-making that led to the inclusion of those words in Trump's speech.
The inclusion of the LGBT initiative was one component of more than 30-minute speech before the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which heavily focused on nationalism, denouncing socialism, and criticizing Iran and China.
Charles Moran, managing director of Log Cabin Republicans, heaped praise on Trump for including the global initiative in his speech.
"President Trump is fulfilling on his initiative to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe," Moran said. "We are thankful that he will use this moment while addressing the world to call for the end of senseless persecution of LGBTQ individuals. President Trump is keeping his promises to the LGBTQ community, and for standing up for American values."
Echoing that praise at Log Cabin, which endorsed Trump last month, was board chair Bob Kabel, who said Trump "challenged the world to do better concerning LGBTQ protections."
"In over 71 countries, it is still illegal to be gay. President Trump's leadership on this issue is heartening during a time when our LGBTQ brothers and sisters abroad still face life-threatening discrimination," Kabel said. "We are looking forward to working with the Administration to promote policies that will project America's leadership on this issue.
Trump includes the remarks in speech as LGBT groups have criticizing him building an anti-LGBT record. Among other things, the Trump administration has implemented a transgender military ban, excluded LGBT people from enforcement of civil rights laws and sought to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom.
Just last month, the Trump administration submitted legal briefs before the Supreme Court arguing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, doesn't apply to cases of anti-LGBT discrimination. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument in the landmark on Oct. 8.
Moreover, a growing number of Democrats are calling for the impeachment of Trump over recent reporting that suggests he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless the country investigated Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden, Trump's potential opponent in the 2020 election.
More to come.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.