One Giant Leap Backwards: Why the Fight for Equal Rights is Still Alive
By JJ Jacobs
It is really tough to decipher Donald Trump’s actual position on LGBTQ rights in this country. He has opened his bathrooms in Trump Tower to the Trans community, in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he acknowledged the Pulse Nightclub massacre as terrorism directed towards the LGBTQ community, he has vowed to protect the LGBTQ community from violence and oppression by hateful ideologies, and he has stated that marriage equality is the law of the land in which he will not seek to repeal it. It would seem that Donald Trump is sympathetic to the LGBTQ community, but during his campaign, he flip-flopped many times on this issue. One could argue that Trump has tried to marginalized every other minority in this country, so why shouldn’t the LGBTQ community be one of those minorities? It is like in the movie Mean Girls, when a group of students are asked, “who has personally been a victim of Regina George” and everyone raises their hand. You could feasibly ask all minorities that, and get the same response, so how does a member of the LGBTQ community know what to expect from President Trump and his administration?
Whoever said, “actions speak louder than words” really knew what they were talking about. While Trump has said many things that seemed genuine towards the LGBTQ community, he has surrounded himself with the most anti-LGBTQ people in his administration so far. So let’s take a look at some of his picks for his cabinet members.
Reince Priebus is his chief of staff pick. Priebus was the chairman of the Republican Party, and I will admit that this was a very interesting pick considering the friction the two had during the campaign. Priebus oversaw the creation of the most anti-LGBTQ platform in the history of the Republican Party. Included in this gem of a platform is repealing marriage equality, allowing states to choose who can use which bathroom, allowing gay conversion therapy, and it extends protection of businesses that deny LGBTQ people services based upon religious preferences.
Mike Pompeo, a congressman from Kansas was tapped to be the next CIA director. During his time in congress, he was against same-sex marriage and voted to allow a state’s definition of marriage to override the federal definition of marriage equality. He has openly stated that he believes marriage is between one man and one woman on numerous occasions.
Betsy DeVos has been selected to be the Secretary of Education. The DeVos family has donated thousands of dollars to organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Both organizations are conservative Christian groups that are very anti-LGBTQ and advocate among many things, gay conversion therapy and traditional marriage.
For the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Trump named Tom Price. Price is a representative from Georgia and has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign. He voted for a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman and voted against protecting people from job discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is possible that Price could dismantle protections for transgendered individuals in their healthcare as Secretary of Health.
Trump picked Ben Carson to be the head of Housing and Urban Development. Besides the fact that Carson is obviously unqualified for this position, during his presidential campaign he made comments comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality, stated that nobody should have extra rights, and that everybody was already equal. He also referred to same-sex parents as not being of equal value to what he deems as traditional families.
Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is by far the most anti-LGBT member so far in his cabinet. Senator Sessions has voted against every single LGBTQ rights issue, and he has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Currently, he is co-sponsoring the First Amendment Defense Act which would allow government-funded organizations to avoid repercussions for discrimination based upon religious beliefs.
Last, but not least, there is Mike Pence, the Indiana governor that became disgraced after his bumbling ineptitude on his religious freedom law. Many thought Mike Pence was going to run for president, but after the religious freedom debacle, he decided against it. Mike Pence is about as anti-LGBT is you can get, and he was Trump’s first pick as Vice President.
These are just the first of the cabinet positions Donald Trump has to fill, but if we are to stick to precedent, we can expect more positions to be filled with anti-LGBTQ people. I do not know what Trump’s true beliefs are when it comes to LGBTQ rights, but judging by his appointments, I think it is safe to say that LGBTQ rights are not high on his list of priorities, and in fact might be hovering at the bottom of it. I certainly hope that the progress we have made over the last few years will not be undone, but as of right now, we had best be prepared to defend our rights from the anti-LGBTQ crusaders in Trump’s administration and in the House and Senate.
Agerholm, Harriet. “Everyone Appointed to Donald Trump’s Cabinet so Far Has Opposed LGBT Rights.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.
Landsbaum, Claire. “Every One of Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks So Far Opposes LGBT Rights.” The Cut. N.p., 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.