During his campaign, the billionaire reality star veered widely between stances on LGBT issues, attempting to win favor with right-wing gay people while also courting the traditionally-Republican hardline evangelical lobby – waving a rainbow flag at some events while pledging to sign anti-LGBT legislation at others.
The Department of Education has reversed civil rights protections for transgender kids, the Attorney General shelved government opposition to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, and the Department of Health and Human Services axed data collection on LGBT issues.
Meanwhile, Trump has signed executive orders that significantly weaken federal protections against discriminatory businesses, while senior Republicans are openly lobbying him to sign a ‘religious freedom’ order to enshrine the right to discriminate against LGBT people in law.
In an editorial today, the New York Times called out the Trump administration’s apparent willingness to let his officials roll back the clock on LGBT rights.
The brutal piece notes that while “prominent gay Republicans proclaim[ed] that the Republican Party had, at long last, turned a corner on gay rights under Mr. Trump”, the reality was different.
It also questions the appointment of extreme anti-LGBT lawmakers like Army Secretary nominee Mark Green, who has branded equal marriage “tyrannical” and being transgender a “disease”.
It adds: “The nomination of several key officials, who have disparaged the L.G.B.T. community and sought to curtail the rights of its members, has exposed the narrative that Mr. Trump would be a champion of gay and transgender people as a fallacy.”
The editorial adds: “For the foreseeable future, the federal courts are likely to be the only avenue for progress. It’s not too late, of course, for Mr. Trump to act like the transformational Republican on gay rights that some of his supporters hoped he would be.
“He could, for instance, urge Congress to pass a federal anti-discrimination bill.
“Yet his record of empty talk makes that seem as unlikely as the sight of a Republican presidential candidate waving a gay pride flag.”
The Democrat-sponsored Equality Act, which would introduce federal discrimination protections for LGBT people, is stalled in Congress without Republican support.
A draft executive order leaked from inside the White House earlier this year that would actively permit religious discrimination against LGBT people.
The leaked order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.
After the document leaked and sparked immediate protests, White House officials claimed it had been spiked – but insiders say it is still secretly being worked on, and is being re-drafted to make it less vulnerable to a legal challenge.
Donald Trump’s former primary opponents Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are both among a group of Republican Senators who have publicly urged him to sign the order in recent weeks.