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Sobering truth about Donald Trump’s anti-LGBT+ legacy – and how it will hurt for years to come

Josh Milton January 5, 2021
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Man holding a Pride Flag in front of the US Supreme Court building. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

As much as Joe Biden is set to finally replace Donald Trump this month, the Republican’s anti-LGBT+ legacy as extend deep into the future.

The slew of judges Trump has installed across the last four years will scupper LGBT+ rights far beyond his presidency, Lambda Legal said in a sobering report released Tuesday (5 January).

With around one in four federal court of appeals seats occupied by Trump appointees, nearly 40 per cent of them have “records of hostility” against LGBT+ people, the four-year-long analysis found.

From the Supreme Court to lower courts, the report found that Trump has successfully altered the makeup of the federal judiciary in his party’s favour – jamming more appellate judges in one term than any of the last five administrations.

Trump-appointed judges see LGBT+ people as ‘less than’.

With many of America’s most seismic legal showdowns happening across the 13 federal appeals court, the group’s findings sowed fear and unease of what is to come, considering the devastating rulings Trump’s judges have enacted.

Across his presidency, Trump-appointed judges in Florida overturned a vital conversion therapy ban on minors. Another denied a trans woman the right to her legal name and correct pronouns in her incarceration records, while others sided with religious filmmakers to refuse to photograph same-sex families.

And as much as people of colour are disproportionately criminalised, not one single Black person was nominated by Trump to the court of appeals – those chosen for the lifetime posts were overwhelmingly white and male, the findings showed.

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A couple holds hands, draped in flags, as they celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (David McNew/Getty)

In crowbarring in anti-LGBT+ justices, Trump has, Lambda Legal chiefs warned, cemented his influence over equality for years to come.

“Our analysis was about calling out the danger to the rule of law, the danger to the integrity and credibility of the judiciary to be putting forth nominees who fundamentally start from a perspective of LGBTQ people as ‘less than’,” Sharon McGowan, legal director for Lambda Legal, told USA Today.

“I think in many ways, Trump’s impact on the judiciary will be his most significant and lasting legacy because it will have a life far beyond the four years of the Trump administration.

“We can and should be able to expect fair and impartial justice from judges regardless of whether they were appointed by Republicans or Democrats,” McGowan added.

“We did not oppose every single Trump nominee. We did not paint them with the same brush.

“There should be a baseline below which we would never fall.”

Related topics: court of appeals, courts, Donald Trump, lambda legal, Law, LGBT rights

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