Is Donald Trump homophobic?
One of the issues thar comes up fairly frequently among the PinkNews team is whether it is fair game to describe the current President of United States as a homophobe.
Trump’s defenders would point to his own personal record.
Across decades in the public eye, the leader has never expressed personal revulsion at the thought of gay people.
As a New York celebrity he regularly espoused somewhat liberal values. He attended gay weddings in the past, and, to repeat a tired cliche, had many gay friends.
But does this really earn him a lifetime Not A Homophobe card?
Is homophobia a personal judgment about whether gay people are moral? Or is it judged by the consequences of your actions?
If it’s the latter, any defense of the President is surely inadequete.
Even if he holds no personal bigotry towards gay people, his actions have suggested utter apathy towards those seeking to oppose us.
Trump packed his top team with figures like Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, people who have spent much of their lives battling to deny LGBT people rights.
Once in place as Trump’s Attorney General, Sessions re-tasked the Justice Department on a mission to undermine protections for LGBT people.
He’s made uninvited interventions in court cases to argue that it’s legal to discriminate against gay employees. He’s revoked protections for transgender children. He’s made a systematic series of attacks on protections afforded by the Civil Rights Act.
Pence’s influence has also been felt; in the Administration’s support for the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would enable anyone with a religious conviction to refuse to serve gay people, and in Trump’s attendance of the anti-LGBT Values Voters Summit.
There is also the Bannonite ‘dead cat’: Trump’s personally-announced ban on transgender people in the armed forces.
There’s every indication that this came about due to work from ultra-conservative Republicans in Congress, who had been pressing the President on the issue.
If Trump truly does believe that LGBT people are equal and should be treated fairly, he has dismally failed to enforce this as President: he is either too incompetent to moderate the agendas of his homophobic colleagues, or he is tacitly permitting their actions.
We often think of homophobia as active and visceral.
Thugs that beat up faggots in the street. Lawmakers who scheme to undermine equal rights. Preachers who call for gays to be put to death.
Donald Trump is not one of these.
But homophobia can also be passive, seeping in through a tacit acceptance and a failure to stand up for what you believe is right.
It’s the crowd that watches beatings from a distance. The politicians willing to sell out our rights for some quid pro quo. And the parishioners who stay in churches that would see their friends and neighbours in jail.
When Donald Trump became President of the United States, he took a vow to stand up for every American.
He stood at the front of the US Capitol and vowed to lead “a nation that exists to serve its citizens”.
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No matter through fault or malice, he has failed in this vow to LGBT people.
He took on the responsiblity of being America’s safety net, dedicated to protecting equal rights for all, and simply failed to adequetely act.
Donald Trump may not be the men who tortured Matthew Shepard to death for being gay. He’s not the terrorist who opened fire in the Pulse gay club, nor the fascist who set off a nail bomb in the Admiral Duncan.
But his actions and inactions have caused harm to millions of LGBT Americans, and will continue to do so for years to come.
If that’s not a homophobe, I don’t know what is.