Donald Trump vs Ron DeSantis: Who would make the worse president for LGBTQ+ Americans?

A split-screen graphic of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump seated against a pink-tinted background of the White House

It is looking more and more likely that Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis will be vying for the Republican nomination in 2024 – but who would be the worse president for LGBTQ+ Americans?

On Tuesday (15 November), Trump officially announced his 2024 presidential bid in a speech from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

While a second Trump term is a horrifying concept for queer people everywhere, it seems increasingly likely that his opposition for the Republican nomination will be Florida governor DeSantis, who is arguably just as bad.

Though DeSantis has not announced a presidential campaign, he has carefully avoided questions on the topic, and during a debate for his gubernatorial re-election campaign he did not commit to serving a full term as Florida governor.

But, even without an official announcement from DeSantis, a claws-out fight has already begun.

Former US President Donald Trump stands in front of American flags while he speaks at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Donald Trump officially launches his 2024 presidential campaign at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. (Getty)

Trump feels so threatened by DeSantis that he issued a warning to him on the day of the midterm elections (8 November), saying he would reveal “things” about the Florida governor “that won’t be very flattering” should he run for president. He later claimed that he was responsible for DeSantis’ election, and dubbed the governor “Ron DeSanctimonious”.

This week, DeSantis hit back when asked about Trump’s comments, saying: “One of the things that I’ve learned in this job, when you’re leading, when you are getting things done, yeah, you take incoming fire. That’s just the nature of it.”

Referencing the midterms, he added: “And you know at the end of the day, I would just tell people to check out the scoreboard last Tuesday night.”

DeSantis has reason to brag. While candidates endorsed by former president Trump have performed shockingly poorly, most notably in Pennsylvania where Democrat John Fetterman won the Senate race against TV salesman Dr Mehmet Oz, DeSantis won the Florida race by a huge 19 percentage points.

DeSantis and Trump commonly espouse similar views; building their political image on “religious freedom”, opposition to immigration, COVID restrictions, educating children on racism and abortion, spreading unfounded rumours of election fraud and attacking the LGBTQ+ community.

But with Trump rapidly falling out a favour among many Republicans, DeSantis is likely to make a stronger contender, and could be even more dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community.

Ron DeSantis is laser-focused on removing LGBTQ+ rights

While Trump certainly did a huge amount of damage to queer people and LGBTQ+ rights during his four years in the Oval Office, his approach was scattered, putting as much effort into removing LGBTQ+ rights as he did into building a wall or encouraging an insurrection.

DeSantis, on the other hand, is laser-focused on dismantling LGBTQ+ rights and liberty, especially the rights of trans children, and has the legislation to prove it.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wearing a black shirt and jacket looks on before the start of a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been outspokenly anti-LGBTQ+ during his career. (Getty)

As Florida governor, DeSantis’ most notorious anti-LGBTQ+ move was the passage of a Florida law that prevents the discussion LGBTQ+ topics in schools, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.

Last year, he signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, banning trans girls and women in the state from competing in sports competitions in middle school, high school and college.

In April, he signed the “Stop WOKE Act”, heavily restricting how workplaces, schools and colleges can teach about racism, homophobia and other systemic biases by banning anyone from discussing how people can be “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive”.

Trans author and activist Brynn Tannehill, who most recently penned the book American Fascism, perfectly described DeSantis’ appeal in a Twitter thread.

“Republican leaders see DeSantis as ‘Trump without Trump,'” she said.

“A more palatable version of the culture warrior they want who will deliver them the Christian Nationalist utopia they desire.

“The anti-LGBT stuff is a feature, not a bug… GOP leadership dreams of a guy who looks and sounds normal-ish while wearing a suit and tie, but who [will] wage holy war on trans people to avoid talking about why they plan on tax cuts for the rich while obliterating Social Security and Medicaid.”