There were some surprises for LGBTQ-rights advocates during this year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Not only did Donald Trump himself mention wanting to protect the "LGBTQ community" in his nomination address, but the convention hosted its first openly day speaker, entrepreneur Peter Thiel. But does this mean the winds are changing within the GOP? Not really.
Though Pro-LGBTQ Republicans are hailing Trump as the most LGBTQ-friendly nominee to date, we have to take a look at his words and policy stances.
a room full of Republicans at the RNC just gave a standing ovation to @realDonaldTrump after he stood up for the LGBT community.— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 22, 2016
"I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me," Trump said Thursday night. The full quote belies the truth: Trump isn’t looking to protect LGBTQ Americans from other Americans with bigoted views. He’s simply showing (once again) a hatred for Muslim Americans and immigrants, while ignoring hatred spewed toward the LGBTQ community from domestic groups, religious and otherwise.
After the shooting at Orlando Pulse, where an American citizen of Afghan descent shot and killed 49 people in a gay club, Trump said that he would be a better choice than Clinton because he wouldn’t allow Muslim immigrants who want to “murder gays.” This was a calculated misinterpretation of events, since the shooter wasn’t an immigrant—and Trump used the same undertone during his RNC speech.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Jay Brown of the Human Rights Campaign stressed: "His hatred toward anybody is a huge concern. When he attacks women, he attacks us. When he attacks Muslims, he's attacking us." Pandering to one minority at the expense of others is not progressive.
Pandering to one minority at the expense of others is not progressive.
Not only that, but if we look at his statements, there are many instances where a President Trump could limit—if not undo—LGBTQ progress. Trump has said he’d nominate Supreme Court Justices who would overturn marriage equality, and unlike Hillary Clinton, has not publicly endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. He has even gone so far as to call the ruling “shocking” and stating that states should have the right to decide.
While this states-first ideology is in line with Republican doctrine, it also leaves much to be desired for LGBTQ rights: many states systematically erode the human rights of LGBTQ citizens, and without protection from the federal government, things could get worse. A president who holds to a states-first stance would be catastrophic for LGBTQ rights, resulting in issues like North Carolina’s now-infamous “Bathroom Bill” going uncontested. If Trump were to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who would fight to overturn federal same-sex marriage equality, that would also allow states to remove rights from many citizens.
And you'd only need to look to Trump's pick for vice-presidential running mate to know he doesn't really want to protect LGBTQ people. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the state's "Religious Freedom" bill into law, which grants businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people by citing religious views as a reason. He also opposes same-sex marriage and the U.S. Department of Education's guidelines on supporting trans students. Pence even once proposed redirecting funds for HIV prevention to to conversion therapy, which is banned in multiple states.
Peter Thiel: "I am proud to be gay, I am proud to be a Republican, but most of all I am proud to be an American." https://t.co/u2MoYdKTFj— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 22, 2016
Many are also hailing the appearance of openly gay Republican entrepreneur Peter Thiel as another step in the right direction for the party. However, his appearance and the presence of Caitlyn Jenner at a satellite event hosted by a Pro-LGBTQ non-profit beg an important acknowledgement: tokenizing members of marginalized groups does not equate to a less-bigoted organization. More than that, being a marginalized person does not automatically make you a good person, a representative of that group, or someone who is looking out for the best interest of other marginalized people.
Though Thiel did take a strong position speaking against the established GOP platform and calling for Republicans to ignore the distractions of “social issues” and to allow trans citizens to use the bathrooms they choose, it doesn’t change the official party platform.
From the GOP’s official platform: “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law.” This preserves the party's long-time stance opposing same-sex marriage and doubles down on claims that children from homes with straight couples are healthier. The platform also affirms opposition to trans people using bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Just because Republican National Convention attendees applauded a conservative billionaire entrepreneur for saying he's "proud to be gay" and the GOP nominee said "LGBTQ" in his speech, doesn't mean that the party has changed, or that the nominee will help LGBTQ rights in America.