Last night, flanked by his entire family sitting atop golden chairs, Donald Trump gave his first major interview since shocking himself and the rest of the world by being elected president of the United States. When talking about the minority groups protesting his election, 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl mentioned us by name.
Lesley Stahl: One of the groups that’s expressing fear is the LGBTQ group.
Donald Trump: And yet I mentioned them at the Republican National Convention.
Lesley Stahl: You did.
Donald Trump: Everybody said, ‘That is so great.’
Lesley Stahl: Well, I guess the issue for them is marriage equality. Do you support marriage equality?
Donald Trump: It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it’s done.
Lesley Stahl: So even if you appoint a judge that—
Donald Trump: It’s done. These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m fine with that.
Matt Wilstein of The Daily Beast immediately posted the 60 Minutes clip on Twitter and suggested that “marriage equality is here to stay.” Which, frankly, is ridiculous. Moments before he was asked about marriage equality, Trump said he’d appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court in the hopes they would overturn Roe vs. Wade — another case that’s been settled and done, for 43 years — and make abortion a state’s right issue again. And, of course, in addition to that dissonant logic, Trump proved over the course of his campaign that one of his main communication strategies is good old fashioned gaslighting. He changed his mind and his story minute by minute and insisted repeatedly that he didn’t say or do the things it was easy to verify that he did, in fact, say and do— sometimes only minutes earlier. But even if Trump weren’t a proven pathological liar, our community should take absolutely no comfort in his “promise” not to go after marriage equality. Here’s why.
Marriage equality is not “the issue” for the LGBTQ community
While marriage equality is a big deal for the LGBTQ community, it is not “the issue.” Sure, we scored our biggest judicial win — both pragmatically and symbolically — when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, but queer and trans people face more struggles than just our right to marry. Laws that affect housing, jobs, and public accommodations are already a state’s right issue and less than half of the states in the U.S. have non-discrimination laws that protect sexual orientation and gender identity. 20 states do not have laws that address hate crimes against LGBTQ people (even though 15 of those 20 states have laws that address hate crimes against other minority groups). 20 states don’t have laws that protect LGBTQ students from bullying, and an additional seven states specifically prohibit LGBTQ topics from being addressed in schools.
One enormous legislative worry the LGBTQ community faces is the introduction of more “bathroom bills” into state legislatures. North Carolina’s HB2 was no accident. The evangelical Christian lobbying group known as the The Family Research Council spearheaded a national campaign to convince state legislators to sponsor “bathroom bills,” and it worked. 10 states saw similar bills this year, in addition to other anti-trans FRC-approved bills like ones that deny trans people access to transition-related healthcare and access to their vital records.
It’s also important to note that trans rights for students this year came as a direct result of the Obama Administration tying them to Title IX, and the Department of Education suggesting that public schools that don’t permit trans students to use school facilities that match their gender identity are in violation of a student’s federally protected civil rights. And the ban on LGBT discrimination by federal contractors was achieved by Obama’s executive order.
Trump has promised to roll back Obama’s executive orders, but that’s not the only problem. Republicans control both chambers of legislature in 32 states and we’re likely to see those states chipping away at gay and trans rights in the same ways they’ve been chipping away at Roe vs. Wade. Anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice laws are still the lightning rods around which many white evangelical Christians rally.
Trump’s main advisors are vehemently anti-gay
I cannot overstate how much Mike Pence hates gay people. When he was governor of Indiana, he diverted funding for AIDS research to conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. He also made it a felony to “lie” on a marriage application after the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, and since Indiana’s marriage license form requested the name of a husband and a wife, two people of the same gender who filled out the form were, essentially, lying and faced a $10,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison. He is on record as saying that being gay is a choice and marriage equality indicates “societal collapse [that] was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence is a hardcore theocrat; he truly believes he is representing God by persecuting gay people, and he will be the most powerful vice-president in history.
Ken Blackwell, Trump’s top domestic policy advisor, believes being gay is a choice that “can be changed.” White nationalist Steve Bannon, the mastermind behind Breitbart, will be Trump’s Chief Strategist; you can hear him casually calling women “dykes” in this radio interview. The shortlist for Health and Human Services Secretary includes four horrifically anti-gay politicians: Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Scott. Every major GOP power player — many of whom rose to prominence by scapegoating LGBTQ people — has a shot at getting in Trump’s ear, and we all know Trump is notorious for simply parroting the position of the last person he spoke to.
LGBTQ women live at the intersection of multiple oppressions
It’s not just specific anti-gay legislation that will affect LGBTQ people under Trump. The Republican party has been waging class war for the rich for decades, cutting taxes for the wealthy and social spending for the poor in an effort to redistribute wealth up the food chain. And because the gender pay gap is still alive and well, LGBTQ women will be disproportionately affected by trickle-down economics. (For two-women households, the wage gap is compounded.) The planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act will hit us harder. Climate change will hit the less wealthy (women, people of color, trans people) harder. We will be able to put less money back into our communities (communities like Autostraddle, for example, and Planned Parenthood). We will have less money to protect ourselves should we be the victims of housing, job, or public accommodation discrimination.
But it’s not just Paul Ryan’s inevitably disastrous fiscal policy that endangers us. Trump has shown a shocking willingness to attack the first amendment, and if our right to a free press or our right to protest is taken away, we will be cut off from a major source of our power. Peter Thiel, the Paypal co-founder responsible for shutting down Gawker by funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against them, will be a major player in Trump’s administration. And Steve Bannon has shown an equal amount of restraint in going after his critics.
In the coming months, the calls to normalize Trump’s presidency will continue to grow. They will come from the press, from celebrities, from our own friends and family — but there is nothing normal about him or about the administration that will surround him. The GOP’s strategy since the 1906s has been to dupe low information, rural, and religious voters into putting their party into power by appealing to the fear of “the other.” Trump’s presidency is a an all-out war on “the other.” We can’t let ourselves get lulled into complacency because he blurted out “I’m fine with marriage equality” in one interview.