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GOP touts Trump as pro-LGBTQ. Their 2020 platform supports conversion therapy.
The Republican National Committee seems to be on some heavy drugs.
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The Republican National Committee posted on its website, just in time for Pride month — and for Donald Trump’s re-election — a list of what it called Trump’s “achievements” on “LGBTQ rights.”
Pause to let out a big laugh.
The brief is mostly a preposterous grab bag of platitudes and vague statements such as: the administration “uses stronger language than any Republican administration has used before in favor of equal protection for the LGBTQ community.”
This, even as the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to allow employers to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in hiring and firing, and of course destroyed the careers of many transgender people by putting in place a ban on transgender service in the military.
But even more ludicrous — and an example of the bungling and incompetence of the GOP — is the fact that this landed on the RNC website on the same day the RNC voted to use the exact same platform from its 2016 convention for its 2020 convention.
That platform endorses dangerous conversion therapy and calls for an anti-gay marriage amendment:
Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman …We do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal.
The decision to recycle the exact same platform — which, in its wording, bizarrely even condemns “the current president,” who of course was then Barrack Obama, but is now Trump — was voted on after the RNC decided it needed to pare down the convention in Charlotte to only a few hundred people because of North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions (while Trump will give his acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida, to a packed crowd with no social distancing requirement). So there won’t be a platform committee that will meet and hammer out a new platform.
The RNC’s LGBTQ “achievements” brief seems pretty rushed out — just as Trump is plummeting in the polls —since there was a big fat typo in a sub-heading when I checked it out on Thursday, spelling “decriminalize” as “decreminalize,” per this screenshot:
And there was of course no policy that the Trump administration created to fight decriminalization of homosexuality overseas. As I wrote in The Washington Post, the Trump administration is simply continuing existing State Department policy put in place by the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular— in stark contrast to most domestic pro-LGBTQ polices, which the Trump administration rolled back.
Trump’s far-right ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who is gay, announced the effort to decriminalize homosexuality abroad as a some sort of new policy, in a press conference he held not at the State Department but in Berlin, in what seemed like a stunt. Neither the State Department back in Washington nor Trump himself knew of any new initiative when asked about it. The State Department actually called it “longstanding” policy.
The RNC “achievements” brief is indeed heavy on the actions of Trump loyalist Grenell, a longtime Twitter troll who has mocked the physical appearance of female politicians, cozied up to the extremist far-right in Europe and was eventually named acting Director of National Intelligence by Trump, a job for which he was completely unqualified.
The brief also refers to the nomination of a few other ambassadors who are gay and two judges Trump appointed who are gay. It doesn’t, however, refer to the dozens of viciously anti-LGBTQ Trump judicial nominees, many of whom have been placed on federal courts.
“The damage that is being done to our federal judiciary may be this administration’s most lasting and dangerous legacy,” Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal, told NBC News after the LGBTQ legal group released a study showing that more than one-third of circuit court Trump nominees have a hostile anti-LGBTQ record, which of course thrills the evangelical base Trump needs to win.
The GOP’s touting of Trump as pro-LGBTQ — even though it’s patently false — is actually a measure of how far LGBTQ people have come, and how the GOP is on the run. The RNC has never put out a statement lauding any one for supporting LGBTQ rights (even when it’s a lie), fearful of the evangelical base. (And, as noted by the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, even on this list of so-called achievements they don’t say Trump supports marriage equality — though Kellyanne Conway has falsely claimed that, morphing Trump into a marriage equality supporter midway through he term, though he’s not explicitly said it — likely because that would put religious extremists over the edge.)
This half-assed effort is indicative of the desperation of the GOP and the Trump campaign as they see Trump’s numbers tanking. It isn’t aimed at LGBTQ voters, who know the truth. (Only 14% of LGBTQ people voted for Trump in 2016, according to exit polls.) It’s rather aimed at heterosexual voters — particularly suburban voters, whom Trump has been bleeding profusely —- who might be turned off by blatant anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
A similar effort actually worked just enough in 2016 to get The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman to write a now-notorious piece of Trumpian propaganda, headlined: “Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P.”
That story offered very little to back up the headline’s claim. It even insultingly told us that Trump having “nuzzled” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani while Giuliani performed a drag skit at a political roast 16 years before was evidence of Trump being “more accepting” of gays.
As happens with The New York Times, the narrative was then set for the rest of the media, which wrongly and disturbingly talked about Trump during the campaign as LGBTQ-friendly. The GOP is seeking to replicate that for 2020. Hopefully, Haberman and the rest of the media learned a lesson. Nonetheless, we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.