Is Donald Trump axing the White House’s LGBT liaison officer?
There are fears that President-elect Trump is axing the White House’s official liaison for the LGBT community.
The Republican billionaire officially takes office on Friday, with his team of officials immediately taking over from Obama officials in the White House.
But with just days to go, the President-elect’s transition team has still not appointed an official to take the role of White House LGBT envoy, putting a question mark over the role’s future.
President Bill Clinton was the first to have a LGBT liaison official, and President Obama re-established a dedicated role for a “full-time liaison to the LGBT community” to formalise contact with the White House on LGBT equality issues.
A number of prominent activists have held the role, including Brian Bond of Victory Fund and Gautam Raghavan of the Gill Foundation.
The role is currently held by Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first out transgender woman to be employed at the White House.
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Speaking to Buzzfeed, Ms Freedman-Gurspan said it would be a “loss” for LGBT equality if the role is axed.
She said:“I hope they have liaisons to many communities… if we don’t have a particular individual here in this building who has an immense amount of influence and power and impact — that’s a loss. That’s clearly a loss.
“There [would be] no one inside the hallways to advocate for the community, so we lose an internal advocate. We lose that ability to inform our president about our community and our needs.”
She added: “It actually gives me a little bit of chills thinking about not having a potential person here, if, God forbid, we have another outbreak of, say HIV or AIDS or something like that.
“We saw what happened in the ‘80s — how there was no response.”
Trump would not be the first President to ditch the role. George W Bush failed to appoint an LGBT liaison across his entire Presidency, despite precedent from his predecessor Bill Clinton.