(This is a GQ Article)
While the president may say he loves gay people, his policies and cabinet appointments have indicated otherwise.
As Pride month comes to an end, and as we pass the two-year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, here’s one more bit of good news from the judicial branch.
Earlier this week, the court ruled that the state of Arkansas can’t refuse to name same-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates, clarifying same-sex couple’s rights in light of the Obergefell decision. While this is a victory for gay rights advocates, it was also the first LGBT-related case the court heard after the confirmation of Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the dissent. There was a lot of speculation online about Gorsuch being someone moderate enough for the left to grudgingly support (or maybe even a secret liberal!), but it looks like President Trump succeeded in putting a man on the Supreme Court who’s as sneering and contemptuous of gay rights as his predecessor, Antonin Scalia.
While Trump gave conflicting stances and opinions during and after the campaign, supporters pointed to mostly positive-sounding waffles as proof that he was a champion of LGBT causes:
- Trump on bathrooms: “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.”
- On gay people not being murdered (as long as it means he gets to malign Muslims): “I will fight for you.”
- On same-sex marriage: “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m—I’m fine with that.”
There’s an idea that if Trump has gay friends, or gets excited about Elton John’s wedding, then it’s not possible that he could be anti-gay. Or, even more maddening, we can never truly know what’s in his heart of hearts, and therefore it’s a lie to say he’s anti-gay.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say Trump actually has gay people in his life that he deeply cares for and who he hopes are happy and fulfilled. That he has no animosity toward transgender people. Hell, let’s even say he likes bisexual folks more than straights. None of those hypotheticals matter: every cabinet appointment or budget decision from his administration has been antagonistic to LGBT Americans. And we’re not talking symbolically shitty gestures, like giving a speech to an anti-gay rights group while refusing to acknowledge Pride Month. We’re talking about actual policy decisions.
January 12: During his confirmation hearings, the now-head of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, said he didn’t believe in “extra rights,” when questioned about anti-LGBT housing discrimination. Carson has also compared being gay to pedophilia and bestiality, which actually is more tired than offensive at this point. (Rick Santorum said the same thing a decade earlier). February 22: In late February, despite Trump’s earlier nonchalance about “the bathroom issue,” the Departments of Education and Justice rolled back the Obama administration’s stance that transgender children had the right to use the school bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
March 20: News came out that Tom Price, Trump’s head the Department of Health and Human Services, has shut down the department’s efforts to collect data on elderly LGBT people, seen by critics as part of a broad effort to erase LGBT needs and concerns from the government’s consideration.
March 27: In 2014, then-President Obama signed an executive order that prevented the federal government from contracting with companies that discriminate against employees because of their sexuality or gender identity. Trump took the teeth out of it, rescinding a rule that companies have to prove they treat LGBT employees fairly, sending the message that the executive order stands, but he has no intention of enforcing it.
May 4: Trump giddily shuffled a victory lap in the Rose Garden after the House passed the AHCA. The ACA increased healthcare access for people living with HIV, and the Kaiser Family Foundation predicts that the AHCA’s changes would undo many of those gains. On top of that, more than 40 percent of people living with HIV who are in treatment rely on Medicaid—--which despite Trump’s promises is on the chopping block in the Senate’s healthcare bill.
June 16: Speaking of HIV/AIDS, the day Trump took office, his administration took down the White House’s page on the Office of National AIDS Policy. That’d be a petty cosmetic detail if it hadn’t turned out to be prophetic: to date, Trump hasn’t named anyone to head the office, and on this date six members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned in protest, saying the president just “doesn’t care.”
Donald Trump may like LGBT people. But he certainly doesn’t seem to care about gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who aren’t rich enough to be protected from the decisions he makes and the people he empowers.