With all the racism spewing forth from the White House on a regular basis, it’s almost easy not to notice that President Trump is not living up to candidate Trump’s campaign pledges not to roll back LGBT rights, such as when he told me our community could expect more forward motion on equality should he be elected.
It’s also almost easy not to notice that in just one year, President Trump has managed to rack up the most anti-LGBT record of any president of the last 40 years. With Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush for competition, that’s saying something.
Last month, the administration announced a new Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services that will defend healthcare providers who refuse to provide care to people who offend the provider’s religious beliefs. The same day as that announcement, The Fenway Institute released a 21-page report cataloging Trump’s attacks on LGBT people that is, even amid all of the other news to contend with, somewhat shocking.
There have been high profile attacks on our community: the Supreme Court appointment of Neil Gorsuch, whose lengthy anti-LGBT record now includes his vote against allowing married same-sex couples to have both of their names listed on their child’s birth certificate; rescinding the Obama-era guidance that protected transgender students from discrimination in our public schools; Trump’s tweet storm announcing a ban on transgender service members, which is being challenged by GLAD); and the administration’s affinity for allowing discrimination against LGBT people based on religious belief, including filing a brief at the Supreme Court in support of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The icing on that cake was Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirming on live TV that the president was fine with the baker hanging a sign stating “We don’t bake cakes for gay weddings” in his window.
But there have been other, lower profile, attempts to undermine the LGBT community, like removing questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from federal surveys to gather data on older Americans and disabled Americans, thereby making it harder to ensure that the needs of LGBT seniors and disabled people receiving federally-funded services are being met.
Then there’s the removal of any mention of LGBT health issues in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Draft Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022—and the addition of a pledge to vigorously enforce” and “affirmatively accommodate” religious beliefs in HHS, language that is often used to set the stage for faith-based, anti-LGBT discrimination.
There’s also Trump’s dismantling of our HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention infrastructure, carried out through budget cuts, his attacks on the Affordable Care Act, and his shutdown of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
And for the LGBT Republicans who still believe that immigration isn’t an LGBT issue, consider this tidbit from Fenway’s report: the Williams Institute estimates that more than 75,000 LGBT people are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), with roughly 36,000 now enrolled in the program. DACA has enabled them to improve their economic security and pursue educational opportunities previously closed to them. Now, the program is perilously close to being shut down, leaving many DACA recipients to face the prospect of being deported, many to countries where homosexuality is criminalized or where high rates of anti-LGBT violence persist.
LGBT people per se may not be the ones with the big red targets on our backs today, but make no mistake, we’re all in this shithole together. This administration has the same dim view of LGBT people that it has of every other group of people that don’t look, act, or think just like them. They’re just not as loud about it.
It will take years to unravel this damage. Democratic control of Congress would at least help hold the line by giving LGBT allies in Washington more leverage over judiciary and cabinet appointments, the areas of the administration from which much of the damage has come thus far and likely will in the future. Let’s act accordingly. If you’re not yet registered to vote, do it now. Know your federal representatives and how they vote. If your congressional district or state is blue, find and support progressive, pro-LGBT candidates in other districts or states. Support LGBT candidates through the Victory Fund. Resist.