Everything Trump Has Done for the LGBTQ Community (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Much)
By Kate Harveston
All of us are familiar by now with the string of empty campaign promises that have come to define the Trump presidency.
Trump has sought to deliver some of the things he promised for his base. His efforts have largely failed on those issues, and Trump has expressed extreme disdain for the political checks and balances he feels are stifling him from being the shoot-first executive he fantasizes he is. But there are many other campaign promises President Trump has not worked to make good on, largely the ones he made to groups that don’t align with his white middle-class base. The LGBTQ community is one unfortunate example.
A Seat Change
It’s hard to imagine a more jarring political transition than what Americans saw as Barack Obama ceded power to President-Elect Donald Trump in the twilight of 2016. History will decide how we remember Obama’s eight years in office, but for the LGBTQ community, Obama’s policies created an environment that fostered progress. The legalization of gay marriage was a huge milestone passed under Obama’s administration, and the prospect of conservative backlash loomed large as Trump prepared to take control of the Oval Office.
Trump promised to uphold the policy of inclusion fostered during the Obama years. During his campaign, multiple interviewers questioned him on national news about the treatment of LGBTQ people, and his response was consistently supportive. It should come as a shock to see Trump was full of hot air and merely saying what people wanted to hear. However, for a man who’s known for this by now, many of us are not shocked at all — just incredibly disappointed.
Trump Does an About-Face
That Trump would turn out not to be an advocate for LGBTQ people is no surprise. This is a man who, even as president of the United States, has no concept of credibility. But Trump didn’t stop at neglecting to do the things he said he would during his campaign. He’s actively making the world more difficult for LGBTQ people.
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks active hate groups across the U.S., and currently has over 900 hate groups mapped and documented on their site. Is it surprising that the Trump administration has had ties to many of these groups? Not in the least. Even with his cabinet members shuffling like a game of musical chairs, Trump’s top advisers have been predominantly affiliated with white nationalist groups that shun LGBTQ people and promote hateful ideals.
Trump himself has had a warm-and-cold relationship with the queer community. Accounts of his behaviors in the past seem to paint him as someone who has at least marginal tolerance toward LGBTQ people, but none of that has been evident in the way his administration has behaved. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.
When a Supreme Court case raised the question of whether it was legal for a company to fire a person for being gay — a position that is protected in most states, but not covered by federal law — Trump’s administration moved to support the man’s firing.
Progress Won’t Wait for Trump
How or when Trump became such a homophobe is difficult to know, but it’s likely just another stunt to pander to his alt-right base of support. Either way, his endorsement of nationalist groups and the suggestion we should alter laws to limit the rights of LGBTQ people will only fuel the advancement we made under Obama’s administration — because the progressive community fights back.
Already during the Trump administration, we’ve seen Danica Roem become the United States’ first transgender senator. The strides we made just a few years ago are largely protected as the precedent set by the Supreme Court. It would take another court decision to overturn them. Trump has aspirations of stacking the court with conservative blowhards, but at least the final decision resides with more capable minds.
The LGBTQ community knew going into this administration that challenges were ahead, but if it were in the fabric of the progressive movement to give up ground as soon as some buffoon with a comb-over and no common sense takes office, it wouldn’t be called the progressive movement. This is a call to arms.
This is a winnable fight, and not the darkest hour the LGBTQ community has seen. So if Trump doesn’t want to be an advocate for those he promised to protect, that’s just fine. But expect to see the LGBTQ community voting in record numbers come 2020.