Trump marks Pride by praising leaders of homophobic groups

The president decided to speak to anti-LGBTQ groups this week.

President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 9, 2017. CREDIT: AP/Susan Walsh
President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 9, 2017. CREDIT: AP/Susan Walsh

During LGBTQ Pride Month, an annual celebration that the White House refuses to recognize alongside “National Homeownership Month,” the president attended a conference supported by homophobic groups.

The president attended the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference on Friday, where he said he would “promote and protect family values” and “ protect religious liberty in America.” The Faith and Freedom Coalition is an anti-LGBTQ group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage, and has even joined a campaign against gay Boy Scouts of America leaders, in the name of their interpretation of the Bible.

During his speech, Trump praised Ralph Reed, founder and chair of the FFC, and Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, two homophobes whose histories of anti-LGBTQ remarks are well-documented. Focus on the Family is opposed to same-sex marriage, calls homosexuality “preventable and treatable,” and promotes ex-gay therapy.

To Reed, Trump said, “In just a few years, you’ve helped turn a small organization into a really nationwide, beautiful movement. Really, so true. And what you have achieved is extraordinary.”

Reed, who said he would be interested in becoming Trump’s campaign manager in 2012, according to reporting from BuzzFeed, once said there was “irrefutable” scientific evidence against same-sex parents. He claimed kids raised by same-sex parents are “five times more likely to end up in poverty. And they’re three times more likely to end up addicted to drugs and alcohol.” His claims are false. In 2013, Reed also said the federal government should stop giving grants to the National Cathedral because it performed same-sex weddings.

To Dobson, Trump said, “I also want to congratulate Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, who was with me at the beginning of the campaign… So in advance on that recognition, James, and for everything they have both done to keep the ‘Focus on the Family.’ I just want to congratulate you. It’s just so amazing.”

In his 2001 book Bringing up Boys Dobson called homosexuality a “disorder,” and wrote, “Who among us would knowingly choose a path that would result in alienation from family, rejection by friends, disdain from the heterosexual world, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis, and even a shorter lifespan?”

He also criticized a Colorado bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing. “Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence,” he said in a written statement.

Of course, Trump’s support of far-right, anti-LGBTQ Christian groups shouldn’t come as a surprise. He chose a virulently anti-LGBTQ politician as his vice president. He tapped a man for HUD secretary who called LGBTQ protections “extra rights” and a woman for education secretary who said she believes it is not the department of education’s job to look out for LGBTQ students who face discrimination. In the past few months, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to no longer count LGBTQ people in surveys that help identify health disparities LGBTQ people face, and the Justice Department filed a motion suggesting it may scrap a rule protecting trans and nonbinary people from discrimination in health care settings.

During his campaign, Trump tried to portray himself as sympathetic to the needs of LGBTQ Americans by commenting on the mass murder of LGBTQ people, who were mostly people of color, in an Orlando nightclub. Those same remarks were also very anti-immigration. Last year, Trump made comments about how trans people should be able to use the bathroom without interference from anyone. But his support of anti-LGBTQ groups and his administration’s failure to do anything to improve the lives of LGBTQ people prove that the Trump administration does not support LGBTQ rights, and will continue to erode them.