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Advocacy Groups Stunned By Huge New Obstacles

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PHOTO BY DONNA ACETO/ DESIGN BY MICHAEL SHIREY
PHOTO BY DONNA ACETO/ DESIGN BY MICHAEL SHIREY

Responding to celebrity Donald Trump winning the White House, leading LGBT groups reacted with dismay and calls to redouble efforts to advance the rights of queer people and others in America.

“Millions of people here and around the world will be shocked, disappointed, and frankly frightened by the election of Donald Trump,” Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, said in a November 9 statement.

Trump, a Republican, was expected to lose the race to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but the many polls that predicted this result turned out to be very wrong. The upset stunned Democrats and progressives across the country.

After eight years of LGBT-embracing Obama, grim determination to soldier on

Making matters worse, Republicans retained control of the US House, which was generally expected, while Democrats missed a ripe opportunity to win a majority in the Senate. Come January 20, when Trump is inaugurated, Republicans will own the Executive and the Legislative Branches of the federal government.

Patrons at Henrietta Hudson offer middle-finger salutes to the news of Trump’s emerging Election Night victory. | DONNA ACETO
Patrons at Henrietta Hudson offer middle-finger salutes to the news of Trump’s emerging Election Night victory. | DONNA ACETO

Control of the Senate also means that Republicans will be able to fill an empty seat on the US Supreme Court. The nominee for that seat will likely be very conservative given the possible nominees Trump has previously mentioned. Republicans will also fill any other open federal judicial position, and that party will have control of the federal bureaucracy.

“LGBTQ youth face losing the federal civil rights protections provided by the Obama administration, like the Title IX guidance,” Eliza Bayard, executive director of GLSEN, which champions LGBT issues in schools, said in a statement. “Any hope of passing federal LGBTQ-inclusive legislation in the next few years is gone. And our Supreme Court may well be packed with justices who will challenge our work to create LGBTQ-inclusive schools for decades to come.”

Trump began his campaign by vilifying Mexican immigrants. Over the course of months he attacked other immigrants, Muslims, women, and the disabled. A 2005 tape of him bragging about sexually assaulting women emerged during the campaign. He insulted his rivals during the Republican primary and continued that practice during the general election, directing slurs at Clinton.

“By a slim margin, this nation has elected a demagogue who trafficked in bigotry, stoked racist hatred, and normalized misogyny,” Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “The election of Donald Trump as president threatens basic principles of human dignity and justice.”

Two women console each other in the early morning hours of November 9 at Henrietta Hudson. | DONNA ACETO
Two women console each other in the early morning hours of November 9 at Henrietta Hudson. | DONNA ACETO

The groups took some solace in Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, losing his race to Democrat Roy Cooper, currently North Carolina’s attorney general, and in Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who currently represents the Chicago suburbs in the House, defeating Republican Mark Kirk for his Senate seat.

“In North Carolina, it appears we have defeated the hateful Governor Pat McCrory and helped elect Roy Cooper to repeal HB2,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights group, said in a statement.

HB2 overturned local laws in that state that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and requires transgender people to use public toilets that are consistent with the gender on their birth certificates, which could often mean that they end up having to use the wrong toilet.

HRC originally endorsed Kirk, an endorsement that drew heated criticism from the community grassroots and Democratic Party stalwarts, but rescinded the endorsement after Kirk made racist remarks about Duckworth’s family.

The groups also vowed that they would not stop working and fighting.

“When our movement gets knocked down, we get back up, dust off, and push forward,” Jerame Davis, executive director of Pride at Work, a constituency group of organized labor, said in a statement. “We don’t sulk. We organize, organize, organize.”

Trump’s conduct during the campaign should motivate to community to rise up and fight back, the groups said.

“His remarks over the course of the campaign, including his sexist, racist, and xenophobic comments as well as his mocking of people with disabilities and his dehumanization of Muslims, leave many of us deeply disturbed,” Carey said. “Make no mistake about it, this will also give us a roadmap for fair-minded, moral, compassionate people to come together like never before and fight. It will take longer, it will be harder, but rest assured that united and working in partnership with people of good conscience, we will get there.”

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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