What has Donald Trump done for LGBT people since the 2016 presidential election?
November 8 2016 saw America vote Donald J. Trump as its 45th president.
The news shocked pollsters, pundits and politicians across the world, with Hillary Clinton the widely expected victor before votes were counted.
While she gained three million more votes than her Republican rival – affording her the dubious title of the most voted for presidential candidate to not become president – it was Trump that topped the electoral college.
It was relatively unclear what shape a Trump presidency would take – we knew he wanted to build a wall with Mexico to “make America great again”, but there wasn’t much on detail.
He had no policy document on LGBT issues.
PinkNews did a deep dive analysis into Trump and VP Mike Pence’s policy positions on LGBT rights, which was read by more than one million people in the run-up to polling day.
Since election day, Trump has removed rights for trans kids, banned trans soldiers from the military, appointed an anti-LGBT Supreme Court justice, endorsed a Republican who wants to make homosexuality illegal, hired an Army Secretary who says trans people are diseased, proposed slashing HIV AIDS funding, signed an order permitting anti-LGBT discrimination at work, removed opposition to North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom bill, addressed a recognised hate group gathering and refused to acknowledge LGBT History Month.
He was also endorsed by Robert Mugabe.
Before even taking office, Donald Trump padded his immediate team with opponents of equal rights.
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.
Removing protections for transgender children
On day 24, the decision was taken to reverse Obama-era civil rights protections for transgender children.
Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama administration guidance, saying the protections were put in place “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in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.
Baning transgender people in the US Military
President Trump abruptly announced on Twitter that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military.
He wrote: “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military.”
He claimed: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Despite his claims that the decision was taken “after consultation with my generals”, insider sources maintain that the Pentagon was not consulted, and that Trump made the decision to appease anti-LGBT Republicans who had been moving on the issue in Congress.
There are now four lawsuits going through the courts in a bid to block the regressive proposal.
Allowing LGBT discrimination at work
Trump pledged to sign the Republican-backed First Amendment Defence Act, a law that would permit forms of anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.
In October his administration issued a directive giving the go-ahead for religious businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
The federal government directive was issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had been tasked by Trump to head a ‘review’ of religious liberty protections, after pressure from anti-LGBT lobbying groups.
The guidance overrides executive orders issues by President Obama that protected LGBT people from some forms of discrimination, declaring that people should be free to discriminate on the grounds of religion.
Slashing funding for HIV AIDS
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.
Appointing an anti-LGBT Supreme Court justice
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.
Removing LGBT people from data gathering
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.
Becoming first president to address hate group
Trump invited hardline activists from the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation to his transition team, shaping the policy agenda for his entire government.
He then became the first president to address the hate group’s annual Values Voter Summit, declaring: “We are returning moral clarity to our view of the world.”
He told the crowds: “I pledged that in a Trump administration, our heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before.”
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course. But you probably get the idea.
New polling this week showed that he is the least popular US president in postwar history – considered an ineffective, volatile weak leader.
There are 1,169 days of President Trump’s term remaining.
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