During his speech on Monday in response to the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Donald Trump said, “Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she supports immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country and who suppress women, gays, and anyone else who doesn’t share their views or values.”
“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community. Donald Trump with actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee continued. “I will tell you who the better friend is and someday I believe that will be proven out bigly.”
On Tuesday, Trump followed up with this tweet:
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
It’s unclear, however, what Trump is thanking the LGBT community for. A recent poll conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies indicates Clinton is lapping Trump among likely LGBT voters — she leads 84 to 16 percent, and there are good reasons for that huge split. Trump is opposed to marriage equality, recently indicated he doesn’t object to anti-trans state laws like North Carolina’s HB2, and none of the 11 names he recently floated as his potential Supreme Court nominees have established reputations as being LGBT allies. In January, Trump said he would “strongly consider” appointing justices who would overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage if elected president. His list of potential justices indicates he wasn’t kidding.
In response to Trump’s tweet, Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, offered a sharp rebuke:
Your pandering is as transparent as your bigotry. You stand against all we've fought for & are still fighting for. https://t.co/JQtc4ITxMU
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) June 14, 2016
At present, Trump’s pitch to LGBT voters seems to basically amount to a pledge to increase surveillance on Muslims in an effort to prevent another gay nightclub from being shot up. Despite his “thank you” tweet today, it appears he’s facing an uphill battle in winning support from that community in the general election — the Whitman poll indicates 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 22 percent of the LGBT vote, which is significantly better than Trump’s current polling.