Opinion: Trump is no friend to LGBTQ community

Caitlin Nestler

Student Voice Editor

 

At the Republican National Con- vention, Donald Trump managed to do something no other Republican presidential nominee had. He actually said “LGBTQ.” Twice. The convention was a little over a month after a man attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people. It was in this con- text that Trump managed to utter words that Republicans tend to avoid. He said, “in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful for- eign ideology.”

He then went on to lay out his three-fold plan for fighting ter- rorism. Note his wording. He said he would protect us from “hateful foreign ideology.” What about protection from the unfortunate number of hateful Americans? There doesn’t seem to be much of that.

Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview after the election that marriage equality was the law of the land. That doesn’t mean people should not worry. Yes, marriage equality was an extremely important victory. However, there is far more to the LGBTQ fight and it is far from over.

In January, after rumors were circling that an anti-LGBTQ Ex- ecutive Order was in the works, a White House press release stated the Trump would not be rescinding Barack Obama’s Executive Order barring federal contractors from discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community. So far, Trump has stuck to that. However, there seems to be a quiet dismantling of protections for LGBTQ individuals within the Trump administration.

According to The Advocate, Obama’s Executive Order remains in place, but a different Executive Order that would force federal contractors to prove they are com- plying with federal laws, including anti-discrimination laws, has been revoked.

Lambda Legal, a leading gay rights legal organization, issued a statement in response to Trump’s action regarding the Executive Order, saying, “This sends a message that the government condones discrimination.”

By not requiring federal contractors to prove they are in compliance with existing Executive Orders, the orders might as well not exist.

With the whirlwind of news that comes out of the White House every day, small actions within the Trump administra- tion tend not to make headlines. That doesn’t mean they are not important. All the progress that has been made for LGBTQ rights over the past few years is in jeopardy.

Last week, Trump appointed Roger Severino, an anti-LGBTQ activist, to lead the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. A statement co-signed by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Center for American Progress and others said all the organizations “expressed grave concern that Severino, whose extreme views

opposing women’s rights and transgender people brought him to prominence on the far right will now be in charge of enforcing the very same civil protections he was worked to undermine.”

Severino has opposed protecting the rights of transgender patients and wrote an article in a law re- view arguing that same-sex mar- riage threatens religious liberty, according to ThinkProgress.

The appointment of Severino sends the message that Trump does not care to make sure the rights of LGBTQ Americans are protected. Someone who so bla- tantly opposes basic civil rights for LGBTQ people has no place leading an office designed to pro- tect them.

The lack of enforcement of an anti-discrimination Executive Order and the hiring of an anti-LGBTQ activist add to the list of other steps Trump has taken to roll back equal rights. The government no longer supports protecting transgender students’ rights to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appointed by Trump, has an abysmal record when it comes to protecting LGBTQ rights. When in the Senate, he voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, according to The Huffing- ton Post. Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is opposed by many LGBTQ organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. And those are just a few of many examples.

There could be more to come. NBC News reported in January that some senators were planning on reintroducing the First Amendment Defense Act. This bill essentially legalizes discrimination against the LGBTQ community under the guise of “religious freedom.” During the campaign, Trump pledged to sign the bill if it were to be passed by Congress. Government-sanctioned hatred is not what we need.

Contrary to many actions taken by the Obama administration working towards equality, the Trump administration, less than 100 days in, has shown that protections for LGBTQ people in all matters are not guaranteed. Despite any claims Trump made on the campaign trail that he would be a friend to the LGBTQ com- munity, he has already proven the opposite.

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