Calling attention to the troubling views of the new Republican administration
With only two months left before the American President-elect’s inauguration, Donald Trump has left a large variety of communities worrying about their fate. Among these are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community, who fear for not only for their safety, but also for the removal of their fundamental human rights. And with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at Trump’s side, these fears are intensified. From Trump’s dismissal of transgender violence, to Pence’s signalled support of conversion therapy, the LGBTQ+ community is put at great risk by Trump’s presidency.
There is a pressing concern about whether Trump will attempt to overturn the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. While Trump himself does not have the power to take away marriage equality, as the Supreme Court deems it a “fundamental right,” he can appoint Supreme Court justices who can. Trump has repeatedly commented on the “shocking decision”of national marriage equality, stating during a CBN interview that he was “very much in favor having the court rule that it goes to states and [letting] the states decide.” In that same interview, Trump also reassured evangelical voters that they could trust him when it came to “traditional”marriage.
This March, North Carolina made headlines when the state’ s legislature passed House Bill 2 (commonly known as HB2, or the ‘ bathroom bill’ ), which reversed certain rights of gay and transgender individuals. Trump opposed HB2, saying that – among other things – it was “economic punishment.” On the topic of transgender individuals using certain bathrooms, however, Trump said that “there have been very few complaints the way it is… there has been so little trouble.” This statement completely ignores the emotional, mental, and physical abuse transgender individuals have experienced while using bathrooms that do not match the gender they were assigned at birth. While Trump has also said that transgender people need to be protected, he does not want to use federal law to do this. Instead, he thinks that each state should determine what they find appropriate.
Mike Pence has an even longer history of controversial stances on LGBTQ+ issues. The Vice President-elect has referred to HIV treatment as being ‘ needy,’ has opposed laws that prevent sexuality-based discrimination in workplaces, and has backed Trump in saying that transgender issues like the bathroom bill should be dealt with on a state level. He also backed the controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” of Indiana, which allowed businesses to refuse service to people based on their religious beliefs. Furthermore, Pence has made clear his position on members of the LGBTQ+ community joining the military, stating that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion.” He also opposed the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, preferring soldiers did not identify as openly gay. When he led the Republican Study Committee in 2006, Pence declared same-sex couples signal “societal collapse” due to the “deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence has also stated that denying same-sex couples to be married was not inequality, but an enforcement of “God’s idea.”
One of the more fathomable fears that arises from Pence’s Vice Presidency is the possibility of conversion therapy being legitimized. Despite the fact that Pence didn’ t touch on the topic of conversion therapy during his campaign run with Donald Trump, he did speak to it during his 2000 run for Congress, saying that he would use federal funds to support “those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” This has widely been believed to signal Pence’s support of conversion therapy, a form of homophobic institutionalism which seeks to teach LGBTQ+ youth that being gay is selfish and akin to committing pedophilia and bestiality.
Though nothing is for certain when it comes to Trump’s presidency, the standpoints both Trump and Pence have taken on LGBTQ+ issues are very clear. If the President-elect and Vice President-elect act on these stances, the LGBTQ+ community could be severely affected for the worse. Regardless of what happens after Trump’s inauguration in January, many Americans remain fearful in the meantime.
Image courtesy of Buzzfeed