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The president can’t stop hiring people who oppose LGBTQ rights

It's not a coincidence that so many prominent members of the Trump administration oppose LGBTQ rights.

Iowa Republican senatorial candidate college professor Sam Clovis looks on before a live televised debate at Iowa Public Television studios, Thursday, April 24, 2014, in Johnston, Iowa. CREDIT: AP /Charlie Neibergall
Iowa Republican senatorial candidate college professor Sam Clovis looks on before a live televised debate at Iowa Public Television studios, Thursday, April 24, 2014, in Johnston, Iowa. CREDIT: AP /Charlie Neibergall

Sam Clovis, President Trump’s pick to head science research within the Department of Agriculture, has a record of virulently anti-LGBTQ comments, CNN reported on Monday.

In 2014, Clovis commented on LGBTQ rights at a campaign stop in his bid for the Republican Party nomination for an Iowa Senate seat. Echoing many anti-LGBTQ conservatives, Clovis compared belonging to the LGBTQ community to pedophilia:

If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes?

But it would have been far more surprising if Clovis had a record of being supportive of LGBTQ people. Most of Trump’s picks for cabinet positions have poor records on LGBTQ rights, if they didn’t outright oppose them. And it isn’t rare for Republicans considered for positions within the administration to compare being queer or trans to being a pedophile or an alcoholic. Here are some of the other anti-LGBTQ people Trump tapped for major positions within his administration:

Ben Carson

When Trump tapped Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary, LGBTQ advocacy groups were worried about fair housing protection. That’s because the HUD secretary has a record of making homophobic and transphobic comments. Carson has said it isn’t “fair” to “everyone else” that transgender people should use the bathroom of their gender.

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“I think everybody has equal rights, but I’m not sure that anybody should have extra rights — extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else,” Carson told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

In a 2013 interview with Sean Hannity, Carson compared gay people to pedophiles. Carson said:

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, it’s a well established fundamental pillar of society. And no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition, so it’s not something that’s against gays, it’s agianst anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society-it has significant ramifications.”

Carson apologized for those “poorly chosen words” weeks later. During his confirmation hearing, Carson said he would “absolutely” protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, his first speech as HUD secretary suggested otherwise.

Rick Perry

The Secretary of Energy has made similarly disparaging comments about the LGBTQ community. When asked if he considered homosexuality to be a disorder in 2014, Perry said, “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

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Perry also supported what is known as conversion therapy for queer people, which is widely regarded to be a harmful practice, and also supported the ban on gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts of America, even after the ban was repealed.

Perry hasn’t dialed down his homophobia in recent years. After becoming energy secretary, he wrote a piece for the Houston Chronicle accusing the first openly gay student body president of Texas A&M of stealing the election and blaming his win on the university’s “quest for ‘diversity.'”

Tom Price

Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary has opposed LGBTQ rights at every turn. He called the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision a “sad day for marriage.” In 2013, on a conference call with Tea Party Unity, Rabbi Noson Leiter blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay people. Price agreed. He added:

“The consequences of activity that has been seen as outside the norm are real and must be explored completely and in their entirety prior to moving forward with any social legislation that would alter things. I’m always struck by people who wake up one morning and think that they’ve got a grand new way of doing something when as you all know that the tried and true traditions in history that made us great are preserved and have survived because they are effective.”

But Price’s legislative actions have spoken for themselves. He voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which allocates federal funding to investigate and prosecute crimes against LGBTQ people.

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In the spring, Trump tapped Theresa Manning for the head of federal family planning programs at HHS. Manning came from the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which calls same-sex parenting “inadequate” and says same-sex marriages undermines fidelity within a marriage.

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a long record of anti-LGBTQ actions and statements. Like Price, Sessions opposed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

In the 1990s, when he was Alabama’s Attorney General, he tried to block a conference on LGBTQ student issues at the University of Alabama. Throughout the early 200s, Sessions made a number of homophobic statements. In 2004, he said he promised to fight against marriage equality.

More recently he delivered a speech to Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been the Southern Poverty Law center calls an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The group has opposed same-sex couples’ adoption of children, supported businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ people, and has filed lawsuits against schools supporting transgender students.

Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hasn’t been nearly as vocal about her positions on LGBTQ rights as other prominent members of the administration. DeVos did say she supported same-sex marriage in January after reports that in 1999, she and her husband Dick DeVos donated $275,000 to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian non-profit that believes in gay conversion. But since January, none of her actions have suggested she is a true ally to people in the LGBTQ community.

Under her leadership, the administration rolled back Department of Education guidance that protected the rights of LGBTQ students and allowed school districts more flexibility in how they accommodate transgender students. The Washington Post and New York Times reported that she was resistant to these changes, but the changes happened all the same, and she did not resign in protest.

Since then, DeVos hasn’t done anything to prove that she will fight for LGBTQ students’ rights. During a June hearing, DeVos fielded questions from a congressional panel. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) asked her if the department would continue to provide federal funding to schools with anti-LGBTQ policies. Instead of taking a stand for LGBTQ students’ rights, DeVos responded, “In areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees. That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle.”