How bad can it get?Feature Story, Latest Issue, Top Highlights Thursday, May 25th, 2017
An LGBT look at Trump’s first 100+ days
Winston Churchill defined tact as “the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Tact is rarely associated with self-congratulatory gropers, so it’s no surprise that President Trump hasn’t been able to convince LGBT Americans to come quietly on the road he has laid out to our perdition. Particularly for those who say, “I thought Ivanka stopped him from signing the anti-LGBT order,” let’s look at the places he has taken us in the last 126 days.
Day 1: January 20
LGBT and AIDS policy are scrubbed from WhiteHouse.gov. Within hours of President Trump’s inauguration, all references to LGBT rights, along with any evidence of and Office of National AIDS Policy had disappeared. The given reason was that the Obama administration’s sites were archived, and Trump’s went up not yet complete. If that were the case, I would have thought that by now we would at least have some conservative trope about how President Trump would “protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBT community.” Apparently Trump has other priorities. The “Support the Repeal and Replacement of Obamacare” page is up and running with a way to tell your story about that “disaster,” while whitehouse.gov/lgbt says “Thank you for your interest in this subject. Stay tuned as we continue to update WhiteHouse.gov.” Stay tuned? Our rights shouldn’t be treated like a TV cliffhanger.
Day 7: January 27
“Muslim ban, take one.” Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban did not target the LGBT community as a whole, but it is certainly an LGBT issue. Homosexuality is illegal in some of the countries affected, and violence against LGBT people, including murder, goes unprosecuted. The ban would have taken away one route to safety for those individuals, particularly those who may already be refugees. Further, the ban showed Trump’s willingness to stomp on things like due process, equal protection, and anti-discrimination laws, the very things that protect our community.
Day 20: February 8
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As a senator, Jeff Sessions had a perfect score on LGBT issues. It was a ZERO, for four years. It would be 10 years except for a vote to confirm an openly gay federal judge. In his confirmation hearings, Sessions agreed that same-sex marriage and Roe v. Wade were “the law of the land.” Don’t confuse that with supporting them. If a conservative Supreme Court finds a way to chip away those decisions, expect Sessions to giddily lead the charge against marriage equality and reproductive rights.
Day 32: February 20
Let’s deport more people. A new Department of Homeland Security memo clarified and expanded Trump’s earlier executive order, making it easier to deport not just those convicted of a crime, but also those merely charged. It also lengthened the time someone could be in the U.S. and still be subject to expedited deportation. This is far from Trump’s only attack on immigrants, but it’s a particularly worrisome one, especially in border communities like San Diego. As with the travel ban, there is a direct LGBT threat beyond our progressive partnerships: the relatively recent federal recognition of same-sex marriage means that many of our binational families have not been able to get a more stable immigration status.
Day 34: February 22
Trump washes his hands of transgender students. In May 2016, the Obama administration notified schools that they would interpret Title IX, which prevents gender discrimination in schools, to require that transgender students be able to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The Trump administration revoked that interpretation with no other instructions, leaving the decision to local authorities. The change put transgender students, like Gavin Grimm, at risk in states that don’t offer their own protections and largely forced the Supreme Court to send his case back to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration under the new policy, delaying a more permanent resolution.
LGBT people won’t be counted. The Trump administration first announced that it would no longer include questions about gender identity and sexual orientation for the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants or the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, an evaluation of programs serving people with disabilities. Just over a week later, it became clear that LGBT questions had also been removed from the plans for the 2020 U.S. Census. Collecting data on our community is hard enough, given the number of people who are understandably skittish about discussing their orientation and identification with a stranger. That makes it even worse that the federal government won’t even try. Without a better accounting of our numbers and demographics, we will never be able to get the funding and services that our community needs and deserves.
Day 69: March 29
Federal contractors, we trust you not to discriminate. In 2014, the Obama administration issued an executive order preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump took a bow for not revoking that order, then proceeded to defang it but rescinding the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” order that required those contractors to show evidence of their compliance. But really, why worry? Big corporations don’t hide a culture of discrimination or harassment. At least that’s what I saw on Fox News.
Day 73: April 3
Police reform reform. Under Obama and his attorneys general, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division entered into agreements with a number of local police departments to assist with and enforce reforms to prevent discrimination. Jeff Sessions ordered a review of these agreements to ensure they are not in opposition to Trump administration goals. While such a review may not seem dangerous on its face, the potential impact became clear as the DOJ tried to delay a hearing on an agreement with the Baltimore Police Department that was being put in place after the death of Freddie Gray. If you don’t think this is an issue in our community, talk to some transgender people of color.
Day 77: April 7
Hello, Justice Neil Gorsuch. Goodbye, filibuster. Hearing Gorsuch say that he considered same-sex marriage to be “settled law” means even less than it did from Sessions, since Gorsuch is now in a position to unsettle it. While on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch joined the opinion that Hobby Lobby could use a religious argument to refuse to cover contraception for its employees. Expect him to use deference to religious freedom to chip away at marriage equality, reproductive rights and non-discrimination. Unlike most of this list, which can be fixed at the ballot box in 2020, we’re stuck with Justice Gorsuch for decades. Perhaps the only things worse is that his nomination brought about the end of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, so Trump’s next pick could be even worse.
Day 104: May 4
Will you live long enough to vigorously exercise your religious liberty? As the day began, the focus was on the House of Representatives and the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a naked attempt to give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut at the expense of the sick. It eventually passed, thanks to an $8 billion fig leaf added to cover high risk patients with pre-existing conditions. Over at the White House, Trump was signing an executive order to “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.” We can hope that the ACLU, who decided not to sue over the order, are correct that it will have “no discernible policy outcome;” however, the AHCA, if signed into law, is guaranteed to cut health care for underserved communities, including LGBT Americans.
Day 109: May 9
“How dare you say that about Hillary Clinton?” During the campaign, Trump lauded FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Clinton email case, especially the October letter to Congress. On May 9, Trump fired him, allegedly for the same activity, because the attorney general and deputy attorney general apparently told him those actions were bad. (Or it was about Russia and he had been planning it for a while.) Whatever your opinion on Comey, his firing proves Trump considers laws to be a surmountable inconvenience, which should scare communities that have few other protections.
Day 110: May 10
The Russians are coming. April was filled with headlines about the Chechnyan government rounding up gay men for torture. That regime is backed by Russia. So what does it say to LGBT Americans that Trump gave the Russian ambassador and foreign minister a long awaited Oval Office visit?
What’s next? Time will tell. Dante’s hell had nine levels, so things could still get worse. The most imminent threats to the LGBT community are likely the AHCA being signed into law, and the next Supreme Court appointee, who could flip decisions on reproductive rights and same-sex marriage. Until 2018, the best we can do is refuse to go quietly. #Resist, until we can vote.
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