What does a Trump presidency mean for LGBT+ rights?

Disney / ABC via Flickr

From marriage equality to workplace discrimination, where does Mr Trump stand?

Against the pundits predictions, the polling data and the organised might of the Democratic party, Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th president of the United States of America.

But what does that mean for the LGBT community? What does the new president of the United States, his vice president and his policies mean for our rights?

Much like Donald Trump’s changing political standing over the years, his stance on LGBT rights are cloudy at best and worrying at worst.

During his campaign he appeared to veer wildly from anti-LGBT rhetoric to claiming that ‘the gays’ loved him.

Speaking at a rally in Atlanta in June he attempted to present himself as a candidate more supportive of the LGBT community than his opponent. Then a month later he was heavily criticised by activists in August for attending an anti-LGBT conference in Orlando.

But what’s really true?

On marriage equality

Politifact concluded in August last year that Donald Trump is against same-sex marriage.

They based this conclusion on statements, interviews and actions by the businessman dating all the way back to the year 2000.

One of the earliest references Trump made to marriage equality appeared during an interview with The Advocate.

“I think the institution of marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Trump said at the time.

Then during an interview with Bill O’Reilly in 2011 he said: “I just don’t feel good about it,” Trump said. “I don’t feel right about it. I’m against it, and I take a lot of heat because I come from New York. You know, for New York it’s like, how can you be against gay marriage? But I’m opposed to gay marriage.”

In 2015 he said in an interview with CNN that he supported ‘traditional marriage.’

After the Supreme Court ruling that marriage equality was a constitutional right for same-sex couples, Trump said the court had made its decision and, and despite disagreeing with the ruling, he did not support a constitutional amendment that would allow states to re-ban marriage equality.

However, during an interview on FOX news with host Chris Wallace in January last year, Trump conceded that he might appoint judges that could overrule the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Are you saying that if you become president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?” Asked Wallace.

 “I would strongly consider that, yes,” Trump replied.

On bathroom rights

In April 2016, Trump told a town hall on NBC that North Carolina’s controversial HB2 wasn’t necessary, and attempted to address a problem that wasn’t really a big issue.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems,” Trump said. “You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife, and the economic punishment that they’re taking.”

During the debate he also famously commented that he would be happy for Caitlyn Jenner to come to Trump Tower and use whatever bathroom she wished.

In July, however, he appeared to change his stance and said he agreed with the North Carolina law. Speaking to The News & Observer in June, Trump said that he’s “going with the state,” when it comes to trans bathroom rights.

“The state, they know what’s going on, they see what’s happening and generally speaking I’m with the state on things like this,” he told TNO. “I’ve spoken with your governor, I’ve spoken with a lot of people and I’m going with the state.”

JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, told Huffington Post at the time: “Let’s be clear, Donald Trump just gave one of the nation’s worst laws for LGBTQ people a full-throated endorsement.”

On workplace discrimination

In a now deleted page on his website – but is still viewable in many formats thanks to Google’s excellent caching system – Donald Trump pledged to support the First Amendment Defence Act or FADA.

FADA, much like the religious freedom laws found in North Carolina and Indiana, would affectively legalise discrimination against LGBT+ people by employers, landlords, businesses, and in some extreme cases healthcare providers, as long as they cite their reasoning for the discrimination to be rooted in their religious beliefs.

The top line of the law, which can be found on Congress’ website, explains that, if passed, FADA will prohibit “the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

On his now deleted website page, Donald Trump said: “If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act. I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.”

He also pledged to “appoint Justices to the Supreme Court like the late and beloved great Catholic thinker and jurist, Justice Antonin Scalia,” who was notoriously anti-LGBT+

The vice president

One of the biggest worries as move towards a Trump presidency is his running mate and now vice president, Mike Pence.

Mr Pence, who has been governor of Indiana since 2013, has repeatedly and consistently shown an anti-LGBT stance in his politics.

In 2006, Pence supported a motion that would change the constitution defining specifically that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Speaking in congress, Pence quoted a Harvard researcher who claimed: “Societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family”.

But the most worrying string to Pence’s bow is his endorsement of ‘conversion therapy’. The unproven and frankly dangerous practice of attempting to change a person’s sexuality through pseudo-science and, in some extreme cases, electro-shock therapy.

Back in 2000, Pence wrote on his campaign website, in a section called Strengthening the American Family: “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Politfact also report that Mr Pence wrote on his website: “Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.” And “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet [sic] and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”

They also report that after researching Mr Pence they could find no evidence of him ‘walking-back’ his views on ‘conversion therapy’

In addition to all of that, Governor Pence supported Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in America’s armed forces, and said in an interview with CNN : “We ought not to use the American military as a backdrop for social experimentation.”

He also signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act for Indiana last year which allows business in Indiana to deny service to LGBT people on religious grounds.

How worried should we be? 

These are all worrying facts and quotes – and we should always remain vigilant to anything or anyone who could turn back the clock on the human rights the LGBT+ community have worked so hard to obtain.

We still have a long way to go, and a Trump/Pence White House is unlikely to be the place to develop further protections against hate crimes and against discrimination.

However, the founding fathers never intended for the president of the United States to have all encompassing power. There are safeguards, measures and committees that are in place to protect the country from a hypothetical dictatorship.

America’s political machinery works slowly. This can be infuriating at times but it can also be a saving grace when something untoward is being passed.

That being said however, the Republican party have kept control of both the Senate and House. Pair that with a Republican president in the White House and the Democrat party are likely to be on the back foot politically for the next few years. This is likely to play havoc with the protection of our existing rights, but also the introduction of anti-hate crime legislation, protections for trans citizens and many other issues.

In addition to the state of the Hill and the White House, we also have to look long and hard at the Supreme Court. Donald Trump now has the ability, and the right, to appoint a justice to those hallowed halls after the death of associate justice Antonin Scalia.

A hardline, right-winger with similar views to that of Mr Pence could tip the balance in America’s highest court and spell trouble for the LGBT+ movement.

As we look towards January 20, 2017, the date of Mr Trumps official inauguration as president of the United Staes, it becomes ever more apparent that we need to stick together as a community. We need to support the excellent work that the Human Rights Campaign, Planting Peace and  and other excellent advocacy groups are doing.

It’s the beginning of a hectic and possibly turbulent time for the US, and only time will tell what president Trump will do for the LGBT+ community.



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