Trump’s first 100 days have been a total disaster for LGBT people

Donald Trump is marking his first 100 days as President of the United States, and he is not off to a great start for LGBT equality.

The Republican President took office in January following his victory over Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton got three million more votes than Mr Trump overall, but Trump came to power thanks to the complex electoral college system.

Mr Trump was once considered a moderate on LGBT rights, but since he took power in January, there has been a rapid shift in policy on LGBT issues.

Day 0. Before even taking office, Donald Trump padded his immediate team with opponents of equal rights.

He picked establishment Republican Mike Pence as his VP, in spite of his strongly anti-LGBT record.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Key posts in the Cabinet were packed with hostile voices, from Ben Carson – who attacked gay people getting “extra rights” and claimed marriage is a “Marxist plot” – through to Jeff Sessions,one of the most staunchly anti-LGBT members of Congress.

Sessions has a record of vocally opposing equal marriage and discrimination protections for LGBT people, and also opposed lifting the ban on openly gay people serving in the military.

Meanwhile, Trump invited hardline activists from the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation to his transition team, shaping the policy agenda for his entire government.

One of the most extreme changes came on Day 24, when the decision was taken to reverse Obama-era civil rights protections for transgender children.

In a joint letter, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama administration guidance that protected transgender students.

The pair claimed the protections were put in place “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy”, giving local areas license to discriminate.

On Day 46, the Trump administration pulled the plug on federal government opposition to North Carolina’s now partially repealed HB2 anti-LGBT law.

In a rapid-about face from the Obama administration, the Department of Justice yanked a legal challenge which had sought to impose an injunction blocking the discriminatory HB2

Day 55. Trump officials are asked to explain why they sent activists from a group that supported Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law to a UN women’s rights conference.

The official US government delegation includes an activist from the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) – a fringe faith groups that oppose LGBT equality and women’s healthcare laws.

C-FAM is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has attacked the “homosexual agenda”.

The State Department said C-FAM’s invitation had come directly from the White House on Day 60. The White House claimed they were included to provide “diverse viewpoints”.

On Day 61, the Department of Health and Human Services was caught ditching data collection on LGBT people.

A question about sexual orientation was removed from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), an annual national survey of recipients of services for elderly people.

Removing the question on sexual orientation was the only change made to the survey, and no justification was given.

Day 68 was a low point, as it emerged that Trump had made proposals to gut the funding for the US’s pioneering HIV/AIDS prevention projects.

The bulk of the cuts are proposed to the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was set up by former President George W Bush to tackle the AIDS crisis, and is one of the largest providers of funding for global projects battling the spread of HIV/AIDS.

White House budget documents include an option to slash $242 million from the PEPFAR budget. Further cuts of $50 million are also set out in the document for the domestic HIV/AIDS budget, with an equal $50 million cut from the CDC’s Global HIV/AIDS program.

President Bush has publicly urged Trump not to follow through on the plans.

Day 69. Trump issued an Executive Order that blew a hole in rules that prevent the federal government from contracting work to companies that discriminate.

While he left anti-discrimination rules in place, Trump revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order – which had required companies that want to do business with the federal government to disclose whether they have been liable for discriminating against LGBT people.

Lamba Legal said that by repealing the order, Trump has created a loophole that makes it difficult to enforce actions against anti-LGBT companies.

On Day 72, Trump nominated anti-gay Tennessee Republican lawmaker Mark Green as Army Secretary.

Mr Green is the author of a Tennessee bill that would grant businesses unlimited rights to discriminate without any action from state agencies, invalidating any non-discrimination protections.

He also attacked Obama’s civil rights protections for transgender children as an example of “tyrannical government”, claimed that being transgender is a “disease”, and encouraged Tennessee to defy the US Supreme Court and deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

On Day 78, Trump’s conservative Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed after Republicans changed Senate rules to push through his confirmation without the required number of votes.

Judge Gorsuch is a strict originalist who is likely to reject arguments that interpret the Constitution as affording protections for LGBT rights, and is likely to upset the fragile balance on the court.

Given the advanced age of three of the pro-LGBT justices, anti-gay activists are hoping for another Trump appointee to tip the balance of the court on LGBT issues for years to come – not just for Trump’s time in office.

This could derail any eventual SCOTUS cases on whether civil rights protections extend to LGBT people, as well as reviews of anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ laws.
Neil Gorsuch
On Day 88, Trump handed a key role to a Republican who was too homophobic for the House of Representatives.

Scott Garrett served in the U.S. House of Representatives, but crashed out of his 2016 re-election race after homophobic remarks.

Garrett had refused to pay his dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee, telling GOP colleagues that he would boycott the national committee because it had supported openly gay candidates.

Trump picked him to head the Export-Import Bank.

On Day 96, White House insiders confirmed officials are still working on an anti-LGBT religious freedom order which was supposedly spiked earlier this year.

A draft executive order had leaked from inside the Trump Administration year that would actively permit religious discrimination against LGBT people.

The leaked order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.

After the document leaked and sparked immediate protests, White House officials claimed it had been spiked – but insiders say it is still secretly being worked on, and is being re-drafted to make it less vulnerable to a legal challenge.

Donald Trump’s former primary opponents Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are both among a group of Republican Senators who have publicly urged him to sign the order.

Beyond Day 100…

Opponents are fearful that Trump will give in to pressure from his party to sign the anti-LGBT order.

He has already pledged to sign the First Amendment Defence Act, an anti-LGBT law that is currently being passed making its way through Congress.

Meanwhile, another retirement from the Supreme Court could tip the scales on the issue.

But with 1,361 Days left to go in Trump’s term, LGBT activists are in it for the long haul.