While the Trump Administration has failed spectacularly in “repealing” or “replacing” the Affordable Care Act, has been embroiled in personnel roulette, and can’t shake the dark cloud of allegations of collusion with Russia to influence the election, it may have been easy to miss the relentless anti-LGBTQ agenda that this Administration is pursuing. But it is stunning after his apparent lies during the campaign when he pretended to be the “real friend” of the LGBTQ. There were rumors that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner would moderate his attitude toward LGBTQ. Haha.
Now we face a tapestry of aggressive attempts to marginalize and discriminate against LGBTQ coming from the federal government. It’s not coming from any influence of the Republican Party apparently, if Trump’s failed relationship with Reince Priebus is any indication. Rather, it is coming directly from the evangelical lobbyists and interest groups, likely through two members of his team: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.
Sessions has long been antagonistic to LGBTQ, voting in favor of a constitutional amendment that would require marriage to be only between a man and a woman and against adding sexual orientation to the protected classes under the federal civil rights laws. Sekulow has made a career of being homophobic. He represented a doctor who refused to hire LGBTQ employees, because, “Not only does homosexuality bring physical and spiritual disease and death, but also it is contagious to others exposed to it.” Through the nonprofit he and his family have led, the American Center for Law and Justice, he fought in the United States to keep the anti-sodomy laws in place and exported extreme anti-gay agendas overseas. These two men are uniquely suited to carry out the hateful agenda now emerging from the Trump morass.
The Trump Administration Forges Ahead on an Anti-LGBTQ Agenda
As I discussed here, a religious license (they call it “liberty”) executive order was leaked early in the Trump presidency. It bode ill for LGBTQ as well as children. The leaked order was not signed, but a narrower version was signed in May. That order is a passageway to discrimination against LGBTQ by believers. As though that were not enough, the Family Research Council has been floating the notion that there will be a further opportunity to discriminate via executive order in the near future, perhaps even this week.
All of this is obviously shameful as proven by the fact that so much of the discussion has been behind closed doors. Before the notorious Family Research Council was crowing about some private deal to harm LGBTQ with the Administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a secret meeting with the Alliance Defending Freedom, another organization dedicated to marginalizing LGBTQ and permitting religious believers to shove them away from employment, government benefits, and the marketplace.
The president personally stepped forward into this arena when he unilaterally “announced” via Twitter that he was banning transgender troops from the military. This twitter campaign did not go as well as he likely planned. While he received Rick Perry’s support, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were blindsided, and many active and retired military officers condemned and defied the announcement here and here.
The pace and ugliness of the Trump Administration’s war on LGBTQ has increased dramatically coincident with the addition of Jay Alan Sekulow, of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, as Trump’s personal lawyer. That should not be surprising given Sekulow’s history. With Sekulow frequently by Trump’s side and speaking for the president, it is not shocking that his anti-gay agenda would worm its way into the Administration and that his presence would coincide with this Administration taking out the cannons to blast the progress LGBTQ have been able to make in this country and elsewhere in the last 20 years.
One of the greatest challenges of this presidency is connecting the dots while the president engages in distraction tactics extraordinaire. Make no mistake about it: this Administration is determined to push LGBTQ back into the closet, or worse. With a friend like Trump, the LGBTQ truly need no enemies.