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Five Ways Donald Trump Would Roll Back LGBTQ Equality as President

by Brandon Lorenz June 09, 2016

Hillary Clinton Tuesday night made history as the first woman to secure the nomination of a major political party, shattering barriers and marking a new milestone for equality. With five months until the election, the choice between Clinton and Donald Trump is clear -- for pro-equality voters, everything we have gained under President Obama would be at risk under Donald Trump.

Clinton’s agenda and record of achievement starkly contrasts against Trump, who has vowed to roll back LGBTQ equality at every turn. Here are five ways Donald Trump has already pledged to roll back LGBTQ equality if he succeeds in his quest to become president.

1.) Trump Vows to Roll Back Nationwide Marriage Equality

Donald Trump has long opposed nationwide marriage equality, calling himself a “traditional” guy, even waffling on whether he supports civil unions. Heading into the South Carolina Primary, Trump tripled down on his opposition to nationwide marriage equality.

In late January, Trump told Fox News Sunday he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse nationwide marriage equality and when asked to clarify by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos a week later, Trump again doubled down.

Trump also told CBN’s David Brody that evangelical voters can “trust me” to oppose marriage equality, saying:

“I think they can trust me. They can trust me on traditional marriage. I was very much in favor of having the court rule that it goes to states and let the states decide. And that was a shocking decision for you and for me and for a lot of other people. But I was very much in favor of letting the states decide....”

2.) Trump to Sign a Law Sanctioning Kim Davis-style Discrimination

Donald Trump supports the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” (FADA), a bill to enable Kim Davis-style discrimination against LGBTQ people nationwide. FADA would undermine the rule of law and promote taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples. In a letter to the far-right organization the American Principles Project, Trump wrote in December, If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment.”

FADA would allow organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect same-sex couples and their families from harmful discrimination. It would also enable federal employees to refuse to fully perform their duties if they believe they conflict with their objection to same-sex marriage. For example, an employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs could refuse to process a claim for survivor benefits for the same-sex spouse of a servicemember.

This is not the first time that Donald Trump has vowed to support sham religious refusal bills designed to enable discrimination against LGBTQ people. In a March debate, Trump said he agreed with Cruz’s answer on religious liberty and agreed that when it comes to opposing nationwide marriage equality and the right of same-sex couples to adopt,“I would certainly have rather left it to the states.”

And last fall at the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition, Trump said he would make the passage of legislation creating such broad loopholes to discriminate a priority. According to Breitbart, referencing Christians and religious liberty, Trump told the audience he would support such laws because “...We’re not being protected.” Breitbart reported, “He said his first priority if elected President of the United States would be to ‘preserve and protect our religious liberty.’ ‘We’ll be fighting as part [of a] common core, and we’re going to protect totally the First Amendment.’ ”

3.) Trump Would Let Anti-LGBTQ Governors Write Discrimination Into State Law

In one spectacular display of Trump’s brazen efforts to ‘have it both ways,’ he made nearly simultaneous statements speaking out of both sides of his mouth on North Carolina’s HB2. Almost immediately after Trump appeared on NBC and pledged his opposition to HB2, noting how unnecessary and damaging it has been to the state of North Carolina -- he went on FOX later the very same day to assure conservatives he would do nothing to address it as president.

In an interview with The Today Show in April, Donald Trump opposed North Carolina’s HB 2 -- saying:

“North Carolina, what they're going through, with all of the business that's leaving and all of the strife -- and that's on both sides -- you leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that 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, I mean, the economic punishment that they're taking. So I would say that's probably the best way.

But later that day, Trump told Sean Hannity on FOX News that 'he would leave it up to states' and do nothing to intervene as president. Trump doubled down in May.

The Charlotte Observer reported, “Although Kimmel pressed him five times, Trump refused to explain his personal stance on North Carolina’s law that requires people in government buildings to use bathrooms matching their birth certificates. ‘What I support is let the states decide, and I think the states will do hopefully the right thing,’ Trump said.”

Essentially, he’s suggesting that if a state wants to go through with a law that puts LGBTQ people at risk for discrimination and harassment, he will stand by and hope for the best -- in a year when 201 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in 34 states. As far as Trump is concerned, however, states should be free to violate federal laws -- such as Title IX -- and deny LGBTQ people equal treatment under the law.

4.) Trump Would Repeal President Obama’s Executive Orders

Trump says he looks forward to repealing President Obama’s executive orders, meaning the executive order protecting LGBTQ employees working for federal contractors is at risk. That means under a Trump White House, a company doing business with the government and receiving taxpayer dollars could say “you’re fired” to LGBTQ employees just because of who they are. And if there’s any doubt as to urgency with which Trump would approach this, The Washington Post reports, “If he's elected president, Trump said that within an hour of taking the oath of office -- but possibly within two minutes -- he would undo many of Obama's executive orders.”

The loss of these protections is not just a hypothetical danger. Just recently the House Armed Services Committee added an amendment to the defense authorization that would undermine President Obama’s executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors -- an executive order that covers 20 percent of the workforce. And Trump has made clear he’s not going to fight these types of efforts.

Separate from the issue of executive orders, Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post that would rescind important guidance from the Obama administration that is intended to ensure transgender students have access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

5.) LGBTQ people, Women, Immigrants, Latinos/as: Donald Trump Puts us all at Risk

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump attacked, belittled and maligned anyone and everyone he considers different. The LGBTQ community is as diverse as our nation, and includes women, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, people living with disabilities, asylum seekers and others Trump has attacked for political gain.

Consider his attacks on immigrants, whom he has called “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” About 30 percent of LGBTQ immigrants -- some 267,000 people -- are undocumented adults, according to a 2013 study from the UCLA’s Williams Institute. Donald Trump would forcibly remove these people and deport them, breaking up LGBTQ families and doing massive damage to our economy in the process.

Trump has also called women "pigs" and other offensive terms; when FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly called Trump on it, he dismissively joked that he was 'referring to Rosie O'Donnell.'

Equally troubling, last week, Donald Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, claiming he had an “absolute conflict” in a case solely because of his “Mexican heritage” and his membership in a Latino lawyers association. Trump not only refused to apologize over his racist remarks about Curiel, who was born and attended law school in Indiana, he reportedly doubled down and urged campaign surrogates to continue attacking the judge for his heritage.

Unfortunately, we've seen the same attacks lobbed against LGBTQ judges. When Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, anti-LGBTQ activists in California sought to have his decision vacated. As Philip Klein, a columnist for the conservative Washington Examiner, wrote last week, similar attacks from Donald Trump should be viewed as an attack on all minority communities. “As an American Jew, I'm certainly familiar with the age old dual-loyalty smear… Trump could just as easily be arguing that a Jewish judge is against him because he refuses to be beholden to Jewish donors. Or an American Asian judge is against him because he wants to get tough on China. Or an Irish Catholic judge is against him because of his attacks on Pope Francis. Effectively, anybody who isn't a white Protestant of European ancestry can be a target of Trump's ethnic and racial attacks.”

Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel are not only an attack on the estimated 1.4 million Latino/a LGBTQ adults but a dangerous signal to all minority communities -- including LGBTQ people -- that they might be next.

In sum: Trump has vowed time and again to oppose LGBTQ equality and roll back our progress. His policy positions are extreme and dangerous -- and he has attempted to obfuscate his views because he knows they are out of step with the vast majority of voters who’ll go to the polls in November.

In fact, support for LGBTQ equality has hit a record high in the last year. Nearly 80 percent of Americans support federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and a 55 percent majority say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate opposed to marriage equality. No matter how you look at it, Trump remains dangerously out of step with the majority of fair-minded Americans who believe that LGBTQ people should be treated equally under the law. 

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. 

Brandon Lorenz
Brandon Lorenz


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