Donald Trump’s State of the Union didn’t include a single mention of LGBT issues, to the surprise of no one
Donald Trump set out his priorities for the coming year in his State of the Union address this week, the day before the conclusion of his impeachment trial, and LGBT+ rights were not on the agenda.
The president did, however, manage to squeeze in many half-truths, misleading statements and straight-up lies relating to issues which disproportionately affect LGBT+ people, like healthcare and addiction.
Trump said in his address on Tuesday, February 4: “Drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly 30 years.”
While his statement is essentially true, 2018 did see the first decline (four per cent) in drug overdose deaths in decades, but that was only after a record high of more than 70,000 deaths the year before. This figure shot up by 9.6 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
He also stated: “We will always protect your Medicare and your social security, always.”
According to the New York Times, Trump has failed to strengthen Medicare and social security. As he has lowered taxes, the Treasury Department is not able to invest as much money in the programmes.
In 2018 and 2019 it was estimated that Medicare funds would be depleted by 2026, three years earlier than estimated in 2017.
Trump also promised to “always protect patients with pre-existing conditions”.
This seems highly unlikely as the president has, on multiple occasions, worked to destroy protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions. This includes HIV, which disproportionately affects the LGBT+ community.
He has relentlessly tried to dismantle Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which gave unprecedented protections to those with pre-existing conditions.
Despite his claims to protect and improve the healthcare services of all Americans, Trump has also made efforts to make discrimination against LGBT+ people in healthcare completely legal.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind the president while he delivered his State of the Union address, and could be seen shaking her head and more that one point during the speech.
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When it was over, Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech, telling reporters that it was “the courteous thing to do, given the alternative”.
Trump has not once during his presidency mentioned LGBT+ people in a State of the Union speech.
In contrast President Obama, in his final State of the Union in 2016, spoke of his hope of equality for all people, including LGBT+ people.
He said: “I can promise that a little over a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I will be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humour and kindness that helped America travel so far.
“Voices that help us see ourselves not, first and foremost, as black or white, or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born, not as Democrat or Republican, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.”
In 2015, he also said: “As Americans, we respect human dignity… That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
“We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer.”