Ever since Donald Trump hoisted an upside down Pride flag with “LGBTs for Trump” sloppily scrawled across it—mugging for the cameras like a toddler with a new toy—and was “brave” enough to utter the acronym while fear-mongering about Muslims during the RNC, there has been a certain segment of the population (Read: low information voters) still attempting to argue that he is, if not fully with us, at least not against us.
According to exit polling, Trump managed to net about 14% of the LGBTQ vote, which is in line with what other Republican presidential candidates have managed, meaning most were not fooled. They were the correct ones, as this administration has gone after the queer community so aggressively that the progress made under the Obama administration is rapidly declining.
That doesn’t prevent Trump from continuing to sell Pride merch, or for the administration to try to position itself as anti-discrimination, while opening the floodgates for discriminatory actions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to go unpunished.
Don’t buy it. We have the receipts, and he’s anything but a friend. Here is your guide to President Trump’s ceaseless onslaught on the LGBTQ community.
Erasing the LGBTQ Community
The Trump administration wasted no time showing its true anti-rainbow colors when, shortly after Trump was sworn in, it erased mentions of the LGBTQ community from White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor websites.
That set the tone for what came next: The Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a “trans erasure” memo, calling for gender to be defined “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” HHS has since put that harmful theory into practice (more on that later). It also foreshadowed the administration instructing officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) not to use the words “transgender” and “diversity,” as well as five other words and phrases.
Additionally, the administration has removed the LGBTQ community from surveys, including the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, as well as cancelling plans to include LGBTQ people in the 2020 census. Instead of asking about LGBTQ status, now only those in same-sex relationships will be recognized as part of the community.
The administration also signaled it wished to stop asking 16- and 17-year-olds taking part in the National Crime Victimization Survey—which tracks trends in crime, including the vulnerability of minority communities—about their sexual orientation and gender identity.
In an attempt to push its worldview even further, beyond our borders, last year U.S. diplomats began pressing for the rremoval of the word “gender” from United Nations documents, as the Trump administration reportedly sees it as vague, politically correct language pushing a certain “ideology.”
War on the Trans Community
This administration has taken particular aim at the transgender community.
In addition to trying to remove trans-inclusive language from the lexicon both at home and abroad, it has assailed trans rights with a concerted effort across multiple branches of the federal government.
Most famously, Trump called for a ban on trans soldiers in the military, a policy which went into effect April 12, though the legal battle, and the fight for hearts and minds, continues.
Additionally, the Department of Education stopped investigating complaints from trans students whose schools blocked their access to bathrooms and locker rooms matching their identities. The administration also rolled back Obama-era policies protecting trans inmates in regards to placement, prompting over 100 civil rights groups to send a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons warning the change would put people at risk.
In May of this year, HHS proposed two policy changes that would impact the trans community. One would allow homeless shelters more leeway in not offering services to transgender people, or placing them based on factors other than the gender with which they identify, and the other would roll back protections against discrimination from health care workers.
Marriage Equality Opposition
While running for president, Trump called the Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality throughout the United States “a shocking decision,” adding he was “very much in favor of letting the states decide.” Lest there be any doubt concerning his loyalties, he pressed further, saying evangelicals could “trust” him on “traditional marriage.”
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump said, if elected, he would appoint judges he hoped would overturn the marriage equality ruling.
Despite Stephanopoulos noting the majority of the country was in favor of marriage equality, Trump still claimed overturning that ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, would unify the country.
Once in office, the Department of Justice, under his leadership, petitioned the Supreme Court to allow it to argue on behalf of Jack Phillips, of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
His administration also put a new policy in place denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of UN diplomats, even if they hail from countries where marriage equality is still illegal.
Most notably, Trump kept his word to appoint conservative judges that would rule against marriage equality. Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote the dissenting opinion in 2017 for the high court when it voted, in a 6-3 ruling, to overturn an Arkansas law preventing both parents being named on a birth certificate when one member of the same-sex couple gave birth to the child.
He then appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who refused to answer Sen. Kamala Harris when she asked him, during his confirmation hearings, if he thought the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage had been correctly decided.
Trump has also appointed a slew of federal judges with anti-LGBTQ records, which will shape the country’s legal landscape for years to come. To make matters worse, he’s appointing them at a record pace, with plans to begin moving even faster.
Making Life Harder for Same-Sex Parents
Same-sex couples have also found their lives made more difficult since Trump’s arrival in the White House.
In January, HHS approved South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s request for a waiver allowing faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ couples. The following month, during his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, he defended a Michigan adoption agency for implementing a religious license to discriminate.
Trump just openly defended adoption agencies who wish to refuse service to same-sex couples, unmarried couples, and couples of different religious faiths. PURE DISCRIMINATION. pic.twitter.com/AAfOBne4uw
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) February 7, 2019
He added he would seek to allow adoption agencies across the country to do the same, the planning for which is already in the works, according to Axios, which cited senior administration officials.
The situation is also dire for a number of same-sex couples seeking citizenship for their children.
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BREAKING NEWS: A Federal Judge ruled that both Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks’ twin boys are U.S. citizens at birth! The U.S. State Department had previously refused to recognize one of the twins as a U.S. citizen because he was not biologically related to his U.S. citizen father. #FightForFamilies
This month, the U.S. State Department appealed a ruling granting a gay couple’s son citizenship, because, although they live in California, and were married in Canada, his biological father is an Israeli citizen. The couple’s other child is the biological son of an American citizen, and he has been granted citizenship. The couple, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks (featured in the video above during better times), told NewNowNext they were scared, going to bed each night wondering what will happen.
Another same-sex couple, Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, are fighting for their son to be granted U.S. citizenship as well, which is being withheld because despite being the child having been born in North Carolina, Zaccari carried him, and she is an Italian citizen. The State Department therefore considers the child, who lives in London with his family, to have been born “out of wedlock.”
No Time for Pride
Trump was happy to hold up a Pride flag that had been hijacked for a message in his favor, but he has made it clear that he has no time for Pride Month.
For two years running, he has failed to issue a Pride Month proclamation. National Homeownership Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, and National Caribbean-American Heritage Month all got mentions in June, but Pride Month was ignored.
In 2017, when the Stonewall Inn was designated a national monument, the Trump administration reversed course on what would have been the first instance of the Pride flag flying over federally funded land, as well as the first time the National Park Service would be responsible for its care.
That same year, the CIA cancelled a scheduled talk on diversity and LGBTQ rights from Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, reportedly questioning what value it would bring to their mission.
In 2018, the Pentagon ignored Pride Month for the first time since 2012, when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was repealed.
Opposing Federal LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
There are still no federal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States, and if Trump gets his way it will remain as such. While the Equality Act would at last add LGBTQ people to civil rights law, Trump has come out against the legislation, which passed in the House and is now headed to the Senate.
A spokesperson said the president does not support the Equality Act because of so-called “poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
In addition to opposing the Equality Act, Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order in 2017 and another in 2018, making it easier for people to discriminate as long as they cite a faith-based motivation, and creating a new faith-based office: the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.
The administration has also gone after LGBTQ workers’ rights, making it easier to fire or not hire LGBTQ people, and removing language from a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that would have required each country to ensure protections were in place to guard against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
During his 2019 State of the Union Address, Trump announced a plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. While that might sound good, analyzing his actions around the issue leaves plenty of room for doubt.
The administration requested budget cuts to HIV/AIDS programs in 2017 and again in 2018. And while the proposed 2020 budget requests extra money to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in the U.S., it is also requesting cuts that would work against the stated aim of ending the epidemic, including a $1.35 billion cut in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Last year, it moved millions away from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to fund the ongoing efforts to lock up the children of undocumented immigrants.
The administration also pulled the plug on funding research that was closing in on a cure because it utilized fetal tissue, appeasing his evangelical base.
In 2017, his obvious lack of concern over the issue prompted half a dozen members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS to quit in protest. Trump then fired those who remained via FedEx. He only got around to replacing them in March of this year.
Perhaps it’s no surprise Trump has taken the issue so lightly, considering, according to Bill Gates, he wasn’t even aware of the difference between HPV and HIV. Gates says Trump asked him not once, but twice, to educate him on the matter.
Cozying up to Anti-LGBTQ World Leaders
It’s said you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and Trump has never seen a brutal dictator he didn’t feel he could buddy up to, including those who subject their LGBTQ citizens to state-sanctioned abuse.
Trump has not gone out of his way to hide his fanboy love of Russian President Vladimir Putin, for whom he owes a debt of gratitude for helping him get elected in 2016. Russia has cracked down on even the most small scale displays of LGBTQ Pride and demonstrations calling for rights ever since it passed an anti-LGBTQ “propaganda” law in 2013.
Russia has also turned a blind eye to its federal subject, the semi-autonomous state of Chechnya, illegally detaining, beating, and killing LGBTQ people. In 2017, the White House admitted it wasn’t even sure if Trump was aware of the situation, and the United States has so far refused to take in refugees fleeing the abuses in the region.
Trump has also shown himself to be friendly to Brazil’s new anti-LGBTQ president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son, and, like Trump, began going after the LGBTQ community as soon as he got into office.
During a joint press conference with Trump in the Rose Garden, Bolsonaro declared the two countries “stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God our creator, against the gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes and against fake news.”
Bolsonaro — who's said he wouldn't rape a woman bc she didn't "deserve" it & that he hoped his son would die, rather than be gay — says the US and Brazil stand together in defending traditional family values and God, and fighting PC culture and fake news. pic.twitter.com/hMxjJ4NtXW
— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 19, 2019
Trump responded by saying he and Bolsonaro are “going to have a fantastic working relationship,” and adding, “We have many views that are similar.”
Further displaying how little interest Trump takes in LGBTQ rights abroad, when a reporter asked about his administration’s stated goal of decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide, he made clear he was unaware of any such plan.
He also thinks joking about executing gay people is a riot, apparently, as he reportedly commented during a meeting about gay rights, while pointing at Vice President Mike Pence, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”