President Donald Trump on August 20 ignored questions about his administration’s transphobic actions and instead claimed he has “done really very well” with the LGBTQ community, drawing immediate criticism from advocates and out gay members of Congress who have watched him chip away at queer rights throughout his presidency.
Trump was asked during a press gaggle about his administration’s recent actions aimed at curbing the rights of LGBTQ workers. Within one week, his administration proposed a rule that would give federal contractors wide power to use religion to justify discrimination in employment and also filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status.”
Trump initially responded by falsely stating that the Log Cabin Republicans — a group of LGBTQ Republicans — gave him an award. That group gave him no such award, but rather controversially opted to endorse his re-election campaign on August 15. The president then insisted that gay folks as a whole have backed him, but could only name one gay conservative supporter.
“I’ve done very well with that community and some of my biggest supporters are of that community, and I talk to them a lot about it,” Trump said. “I think I’ve done really very well with that community, as you know, Peter Thiel and so many others, they’re — they’re with me all the way, and they like the job I’m doing.”
Trump’s remarks came at a time when his administration has worked behind the scenes to cater to religious conservatives and mount a multi-pronged assault on LGBTQ rights. Trump has banned transgender folks from the military, revoked Obama-era guidance protecting transgender students in schools, pushed to remove Obamacare’s protections for transgender and gender nonconforming folks, and embarked on a new effort to scale back the State Department’s role in advocating for LGBTQ rights around the globe.
Among many other examples, Trump has also targeted families: His administration’s Department of Health and Human Services granted taxpayer-funded adoption agencies in South Carolina the right to reject same-sex prospective parents and his State Department has blown off marriage laws and immigration laws by rejecting citizenship for children of bi-national same-sex parents.
A pair of out gay members of Congress, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, fired back at Trump, telling Gay City News that his homophobia and transphobia has actively harmed LGBTQ Americans.
“There is no question that this president has done more to undermine the rights of LGBTQ Americans than any President in history,” Cicilline, who is chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, said in a written statement. “Not only has he appointed two anti-gay marriage justices to the Supreme Court and implemented a ban of transgender members of the military, he has worked to systematically undermine civil protections for openly LGBTQ Americans at every turn. His actions and rhetoric have created an environment where the LGBTQ community is forced to live in fear of losing their jobs or being kicked out of their apartments while hate crimes targeting people because of their sexual orientation are on the rise.”
Maloney, who is the first out gay member of Congress from New York, said the entire administration’s “record speaks for itself.”
“This administration is not an ally to the LGBTQ community,” Maloney noted in a written statement. “Their collective bigotry has shaped policies that put discrimination before equality and - at the end of the day - put queer people in harm’s way.”
Others who have been involved in the fight for LGBTQ rights also responded accordingly. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, who previously served as counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, tore into Trump’s comments by citing several examples of the president’s anti-LGBTQ attacks and recalled the way queer Americans soundly rejected Trump’s platform in the 2018 midterms.
“Every credible LGBTQ organization is mobilizing to defeat Trump, Pence & their anti-LGBTQ extremist allies in 2020,” David said in a tweet. “Those who claim this administration is pro-LGBTQ are out of touch with facts and reality.”
The president’s growing list of actions against the community prompted other advocacy groups to remind folks just how many ways he has targeted queer rights during his tenure in office. GLAAD, which advocates for queer folks in the media, has kept a running tally of the president’s attacks and fired back at him following his bogus claims.
“Trump has not ‘done very well’ with the LGBTQ community,” the organization stated in a tweet. “In fact, he and his administration have rolled back protections and targeted LGBTQ people 123 times since 2017.”