Despite The Most Anti-LGBT Platform Ever, Pundits Tout Trump As A "Champion" Of LGBT Causes

While Some Pundits Point Out The Anti-Gay Record of Trump And The GOP, Others Fall For His Superficial Outreach

››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

While some media figures ignored the GOP’s anti-LGBT party platform to label Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “a champion” of LGBT causes after the candidate mentioned the LGBTQ community during his Republican National Convention acceptance speech, others called out the “fallacious and offensive” idea, and noted that “this year’s GOP platform is one of the most anti-LGBT ever.”

Convention Featured Openly Gay Speaker And Trump Mentioned The LGBTQ Community

Openly Gay Billionaire Peter Thiel Spoke At Convention. Peter Thiel, a gay tech billionaire, told the Republican convention “he is ‘proud to be gay,’” and he was “the first speaker in the party's history to do so from the stage of the Republican National Convention.” From a July 21 CNN.com article:

Peter Thiel encouraged the GOP to not get distracted by culture wars on stage Thursday night, saluting Donald Trump for not focusing on such things as he made history.

The tech billionaire declared to the Republican National Convention that he is "proud to be gay," becoming the first speaker in the party's history to do so from the stage of the Republican National Convention.

"Every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay," he said to applause, including from the Trump family. "I am proud to be a Republican, but most of all I am proud to be an American." [CNN.com, 7/21/16]

Trump Mentioned LGBTQ Community In His Speech. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Donald Trump said, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” From a July 22 Associated Press article:

Trump's call in his speech to the Republican National Convention for protecting the "LGBTQ community" was a watershed moment for the Republican Party — the first time the issue has been elevated in a GOP nomination address. Four years ago, Mitt Romney never uttered the word "gay," much less the full acronym — standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.

But Trump, as if to drive the point home, said it not once, but twice.

"I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," Trump said, adding for emphasis: "Believe me." [The Associated Press, 7/22/16]

Media Figures Proclaim Speech Showed “The New GOP” On LGBT Rights

Fox’s John Roberts: Trump Has “Become A Champion” For LGBT Rights. Fox correspondent John Roberts claimed that with Trump’s remarks, he “has become a champion for the cause.” Fox co-host Ainsley Earhardt also claimed that Thiel and Trump’s remarks represented “The new GOP.” From the July 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): A lot of millennials want that. He's talking about change. They want this to be a little bit more unconventional and that's why a lot of the voters like Donald Trump, because he's not your establishment politician. He also last night had his friend, Peter Thiel, who is also one of your friends, the cofounder of PayPal, a billionaire up on stage, saying, talking about being gay. And Donald Trump made a comment about the LBGTQ community, and encouraging them to vote for him and why. Let's listen to this and discuss it. The new GOP.

[...]

TUCKER CARLSON: The "Q" is confusing, but the point that Peter Thiel made -- this is an emperor’s new clothes movement. He's basically telling you what you already know. Exactly. Identity politics is stupid, it’s frivolous, it’s shallow, it’s banal, it’s not really the point. Who does care? Why are we talking about bathrooms and climate when the middle class is dying?

EARHARDT: And he’s talking about Orlando. And Orlando, reminding us what happened in Orlando, unifying America.

CARLSON: Exactly, but once you say it out loud -- nobody has the brass to just say, “What?” This is dumb,” and Peter Thiel did.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Put it this way, the NBA just pulled out their all-star game because of the bathroom issue with North Carolina.

JOHN ROBERTS: Yeah and we have heard this on the stump. And Donald Trump, this is one point where he departs from the platform of the Republican Party and he's really kind of framed this in the context of what happened in Orlando and he has become a champion for the cause. And there are a lot of people in the LGBTQ community who are not on board with that yet. But he is trying to make that point. I don't know if he'll be able to make it to the point where he would get the majority of them to vote for him, but he is certainly trying. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/22/16, via Media Matters]

CBS’ John Dickerson: “It's Extraordinary The Distance The Republican Party Has Traveled” On LGBT Issues. In a discussion about Trump’s remarks and Thiel’s appearance, CBS’s John Dickerson stated “it’s extraordinary the distance the Republican Party has traveled” on addressing gay rights, adding “what we didn't see in the hall is anybody talk about unelected judges redefining marriage,” which in the past has been “a normal applause line.” From the July 22 edition of CBS This Morning:

GAYLE KING (CO-HOST): But yesterday, [Trump] brought up the LGBTQ community. Q, by the way, stands for "questioning." I learned that myself last night for the first time. People around me are going, "What does the Q stand for? What does it mean? What does it mean?" Were you surprised that he brought that up, especially after Peter Thiel spoke, an openly gay billionaire. That got big applause in the room.

NORAH O'DONNELL (CO-HOST): It was an edit to the speech right?

JOHN DICKERSON: It was a -- when he spoke to the room and said, "It's great to hear you applaud for that." It's extraordinary the distance the Republican Party has traveled here. The platform is different than what we saw in the hall but what we didn't see in the hall is anybody talk about unelected judges redefining marriage, which is usually a normal applause line at an Republican event. In 2004, [President] George [W.] Bush, during his election, ran on having an amendment to the Constitution to block gay marriage. Now you have people applauding on a variety of different fronts. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 7/22/16]

Mark Halperin: Speeches Made It “One Of The Biggest Days Ever” For “The Republican Party And Gay Rights.” Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin claimed, “In the history of the Republican Party and gay rights, last night was one of the biggest days ever" because of Thiel and Trump's remarks. MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough added that Thiel’s remarks showed “a significant landmark for this country, culturally, and [for] the party.” From the July 22 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): So [Peter Thiel] goes on to say, “Let's not let these sort of fringe social issues get in the way of our message.” But when he said that, the camera panned to the room. And the room was with him. Really good to see.

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): You don't want to overstate anything, but I think culturally, I think that was a significant landmark for this country, culturally, and the party that has been seen as the most reactionary to the rights of many, many Americans and many different groups, responded that way to Peter's declaration.

MARK HALPERIN: In the history of the Republican Party and gay rights, last night was one of the biggest days ever. Not just what Peter Thiel said, but Donald Trump twice made reference to the LGBTQ community. Thanked the audience for cheering when he talked about it. And this is a party that has seen a huge sea change, behind the change in the country at large, but a huge sea change with a lot of prominent Republican strategists, some office holders, including [Sen.] Rob Portman [(R-OH)], the senator from this state, saying, “We need to move to a more open view on gay rights.” So last night was just a huge, huge [inaudible] towards that.

BRZEZINSKI: Might have just moved it.

[...]

MICHAEL STEELE: And when Donald Trump came back and sort of doubled down on the point, not once but twice, and that moment for me was very important, was when he looked at the cameras and said, “Thank you for applauding that.” [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 7/22/16]

But Trump, Pence, And The GOP Have Supported And Continue To Advocate For Discriminatory Legislation Against The LGBT Community

Trump Has Touted Support For An Anti-LGBT Federal “Religious Freedom” Law. Trump publicly supported the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which is characterized by conservatives as “religious freedom” legislation. However, the bill would codify a broad right to federal anti-LGBT discrimination and nullify current federal protections for LGBT people. In a letter to the American Principles Project, Trump said that if he were president and Congress acted on the bill, he would “do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment.” [Washington Blade, 12/23/15]

Trump Flip-Flopped On North Carolina’s Discriminatory HB 2, Now Supports The Anti-LGBT Legislation. In April, Trump appeared to oppose North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB 2, which bans transgender people, including public school students, from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. But only a day after he said that North Carolina should “leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints,” Trump reversed his original opposition and asserted that states have the right to enact discriminatory legislation like HB 2. Then in July, Trump declared that he is “going with the state” in support of HB 2. [ABC, 4/21/16; CBS, 4/22/16; The Huffington Post, 7/6/16]

Pence Signed Indiana’s Notorious Anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom” Bill Into Law. In March 2015, Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, signed into law his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provided a legal defense for individuals and businesses who cite their religious beliefs while discriminating against LGBT people. The law triggered a furious national backlash, with major companies, celebrities, and government leaders condemning the measure for potentially encouraging discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Pence and top Indiana Republicans eventually pledged to "clarify" the law by adding language that prevents RFRA from being used as a defense for anti-LGBT discrimination in court. [Media Matters4/2/15]

Pence Opposed Nondiscrimination Protections For Transgender Students. In May, Pence lashed out at directives from the Obama administration that were meant to ensure students “‘attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.’” Pence panned the directives, saying, “Policies regarding the security and privacy of students in our schools should be in the hands of Hoosier parents and local schools, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC.” [Fox 59, 5/13/16]

GOP Platform Endorses Act That Would “Enable Anti-LGBT Discrimination.” In the 2016 platform, the Republican Party officially endorses the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). A number of anti-LGBT hate groups have endorsed the so-called “religious freedom” legislation, which would codify a broad right to federal anti-LGBT discrimination. [2016 Republican Platform, accessed 7/21/16; Media Matters, 7/28/15]

GOP Platform Endorses States Filing Suit Against Federal Nondiscrimination Directives. The Republican Party platform criticizes the Obama administration for using Title IX to protect the rights of LGBT people, saying it’s imposing “a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories.” The platform says the administration's “edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues” and that the party supports “the several states which have filed suit against it.” [2016 Republican Platform, accessed 7/21/16]

Some In Media Point Out Trump, Pence, And GOP’s Anti-LGBT Record

CNN’s Cuomo: Trump Picked For VP Someone Who Is “No Friend To The LGBT Community.” CNN host Chris Cuomo pointed out that Trump picked a running mate who is “no friend to the LGBT community,” who opposes nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, and who “believes in funding conversion therapy.” From the July 22 edition of CNN’s New Day:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Donald Trump is getting kudos for mentioning the LGBT community and saying he would protect them from this foreign hateful ideology. Is that a bold position? "I'm going to protect you from terrorism."

REP. SEAN DUFFY (R-WI): Well, I think the community wants him to say, I'm going to protect you.

CAMEROTA: They also want to hear, and domestically I'm going to help you get the rights you deserve.

DUFFY: Yeah, I don't know if he was trying to walk a line there or what he was doing, but if -- did you hear the response from the crowd? Some will say the Republicans are anti-gay. If you listen to the crowd last night, these are hardcore Republicans. That was one of the loudest applause Donald Trump got.

CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): But did they take it a terror line or as a gay rights line? Looked who he picked as his VP. I mean Governor Pence is no friend to the LGBT community.

DUFFY: Well, I don't think that's true. I don't think he believes in -- he believes in traditional marriage, not gay marriage.

CUOMO: He doesn't want to have transgender bathrooms. He believes in funding conversion therapy, which to that community is one of the most insidious and dangerous things there is.

DUFFY: We can spend the whole next hour talking about --

CUOMO: Wouldn't be good for you, Duffy, not on this issue. [CNN, New Day, 7/22/16, via Media Matters]

Huff. Post: “This Year’s GOP Platform Is One Of The Most Anti-LGBT Ever.” The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel noted that despite the “overtures” from Thiel and Trump, “this year’s GOP platform is one of the most anti-LGBT ever.” Terkel also mentioned that Trump’s running mate Pence “has made his name by pushing a socially conservative agenda that included going after LGBT equality,” and that Trump supports North Carolina’s law barring transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match the gender listed on their birth certificate. From the July 22 article:

Despite these overtures to a constituency not usually supportive of the Republican Party, this year’s GOP platform is one of the most anti-LGBT ever.

[...]

And Trump chose as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has made his name by pushing a socially conservative agenda that included going after LGBT equality.

Last year, Pence waged a high-profile fight for “religious freedom,” signing a law that could have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals. After intense national backlash that cost his state economically ― and embarrassed many members of his party ― Pence backed down and signed a revised version of the law.

[...]

Trump himself opposes marriage equality. He initially came out in favor of allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity rather than the gender assigned to them at birth, but he has since said he supports North Carolina’s law barring them from doing so. [The Huffington Post, 7/22/16]

Slate: “Trump’s Party Just Approved A Virulently Anti-LGBTQ Platform.” Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder pointed out that despite Trump’s remarks and the reaction to them, “Trump’s party just approved a virulently anti-LGBTQ platform, including everything from overturning marriage equality to supporting dangerous ‘conversion therapy’ and anti-trans bathroom laws.” Lowder urged people not to fall for the “fallacious and offensive” idea that Trump is the best candidate for the LGBT community. From a July 21 article:

[Trump’s] statement, and the cheers in the room, are simply galling, not least because Trump’s party just approved a virulently anti-LGBTQ platform, including everything from overturning marriage equality to supporting dangerous "conversion therapy" and anti-trans bathroom laws. But it’s a rhetorical move Trump has been attempting since the days after the attack, when—after thanking supporters for “the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”—he argued that queer people should support him, our true “friend,” over Hillary Clinton because she isn’t an Islamophobic racist.

I’ve explained at length why this logic is both fallacious and offensive, but it’s worth a quick revisit here, lest RNC viewers be tempted to give credit to Trump or his party for appearing to support LGBT people. For one thing, the large majority of the “wonderful Americans” slaughtered at Pulse were Latino, some undocumented. Trump has spent much of his campaign demeaning, threatening deportation to, and promising to build a wall against such people. Additionally, investigations have revealed that Omar Mateen was almost certainly not connected to any actual “Islamic terrorist” group; indeed, his invocation of ISIS during the attack appears to have been a gambit for attention more than a statement of genuine affiliation. And finally, the idea that a Republican president is going to protect LGBTQ people from “oppression” is, in a word, laughable. In fact, while homophobia in certain parts of Muslim culture is a real problem, queer Americans don't need to look to a “hateful foreign ideology” to find something to fear. We have more than enough homophobia and transphobia to deal with right here at home—much of it emanating from the white, straight, nominally Christian people who make up Trump’s base. [Slate, 7/21/16]

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