It’s official: The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) voted not to endorse Donald Trump this weekend. It’s the first time the gay Republican group hasn’t endorsed the Republican presidential nominee since 2004 (George W. Bush was fine in 2000, but endorsing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004 was a step too far). But even as the group’s leaders announced the decision, they heaped praise on Trump for a pro-LGBT record that he simply doesn’t have — something they have often done over the past year.
“Mr. Trump is perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party,” the group claimed in a release Saturday. “His unprecedented overtures to the ‘LGBTQ community’ — a first for any major-party candidate in our nation’s history — are worthy of praise, and should serve as a clarion call to the GOP that the days of needing to toe an anti-LGBT line are now a thing of the past.” Yes, the statement put “LGBTQ community” in quotes.
Gregory T. Angelo, the organization’s president, even believes that a President Trump could surpass President Obama’s support for equality. “Could Donald Trump be the most pro-LGBT president that this country has ever had? He might well be,” he told Politico.
The LCR statement implies that Trump truly is pro-LGBT, but it’s his advisers and allies who are the problem. “As Mr. Trump spoke positively about the LGBT community in the United States, he concurrently surrounded himself with senior advisers with a record of opposing LGBT equality, and committed himself to supporting legislation such as the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ that Log Cabin Republicans opposes.”
But Trump’s promise to sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would enable religious discrimination against same-sex couples, is far from the only example of Trump’s anti-LGBT positions. He also said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality — and his specific recommendations confirm this. Despite initially supporting respecting transgender people’s bathroom usage, he has backslid to supporting “states’ rights” to decide anti-trans bathroom policies, a timeless talking point for allowing injustices to persist. The campaign has confirmed that Trump would roll back the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students, workers, and tenants from discrimination, as well as his executive order protecting the LGBT employees of federal contractors. And of course, he picked as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), who not only championed his state’s “religious freedom” pro-discrimination law, but who has a history of nasty anti-gay rhetoric.
Arguably, Trump doesn’t hold a single pro-LGBT position. The outreach LCR praises him for has never included a single promise for how he would improve life for the queer community in the U.S. Instead, Trump has deployed homonationalism, the hope that ISIS’ brand of homophobia is severe enough to rally people together against it. In fact, it was only after the tragic shooting in Orlando that he actually started referencing “LG…BT…Q” people occasionally in his remarks — and only in this capacity. In other words, Trump isn’t actually pro-LGBT, he’s just more Islamophobic than he is homophobic or transphobic.
Angelo told Politico that the LCR board members who supported Trump in the vote hold “a strong concern about what the Supreme Court means for other issues, like the Second Amendment, and that contingent fell very much on the side of endorsing Donald Trump.” They are conservatives who happen to be gay but who didn’t really concern themselves with his positions on LGBT issues.
And, even though LCR isn’t endorsing Trump, if he wins, the group “welcomes the opportunity to work with his administration to ensure the advances in LGBT freedom we have fought for and secured will continue.”