Trump Continues To Add to Anti-LGBTQ Cabinet
President-elect Donald Trump continues to add anti-LGBTQ politicians to his administration. Senior staff and cabinet appointments include those who have voted against LGBTQ rights and those who have no history of standing up for LGBTQ rights. Most have received a “zero” on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, a system which rates how elected officials have voted on issues of equality. While Donald Trump may himself not be anti-LGBTQ, he is continuing to surround himself with those who are.
Mike Pence, Vice President
Over the course of his political career, Mike Pence has continuously pushed anti-LGBTQ legislation, co-sponsoring the Federal Marriage Amendment, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing private and public individuals in the state of Indiana to refuse goods and services to LGBTQ individuals based on religious beliefs. He has called to divert federal AIDS funding to government-funded programs for conversion therapy and has said that LGBTQ individuals cannot serve in the military because "homosexuals are not as a group able bodied." President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, called Pence “the number one face of hate in the country.”
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General
Jeff Sessions has consistently opposed pro-LGBTQ legislation throughout his congressional career. Sessions voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal definition of hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation, gender, and disability, voted against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and is currently co-sponsoring the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA,) which in essence, stipulates that the federal government cannot enforce anti-discrimination laws. The Family Equality Council, GLSEN, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Trevor Project are among 144 civil rights organizations that have written to the Senate, urging them not to confirm Sessions as attorney general.
Betsy Devos, Secretary of Education
Devos, philanthropist and anti-gay activist, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-gay groups including the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family, a conservative group that fought same sex marriage in several states and champions conversion therapy. Her and husband previously donated $200,000 to add an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Michigan ballot. Civil and LGBTQ rights groups are worried she would likely backtrack on guidelines previously issued by the Department of Education to protect LGBTQ students.
Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Tom Price is a co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, which seeks to protect individuals, corporations, and businesses who discriminate against LGBTQ individuals under the guise of religious freedom, and voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Price called the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage “a sad day for marriage” and has called federal guidelines about the treatment of transgender students “absurd. ” Civil and LGBTQ rights groups are concerned about Price's impact on health services for those with HIV. Price strongly opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) and vows to dismantle it. But before ACA, those with HIV relied on the federal AID's Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to gain access to medication. The program was plagued by state budget cuts, leading to long wait times to gain access to medication. ACA extended coverage of expensive anti-retro-viral drugs, allowing those with HIV/AIDS to move off of ADAP as well as get full health insurance. President and CEO of GLADD, Sarah Kate Ellis, called Price "completely unfit for secretary of Health and Human Services" because of his "hateful record on LGBTQ issues" and his lack of "understanding of basic human rights and dignity."
Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser
Flynn, during his speech at the Republican National Convention this July, attacked the Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on transgender military members, saying that “way too often, our troops are instead distracted by trivial matters about what word to use, what terminology is politically correct, and what bathroom door to open up.”
Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff
Priebus, as Republican National Party chair, led the most anti-LGBTQ Republican Party platform in history. The platform endorses conversion therapy and the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act, opposes same-sex marriage, calls for legislation to prevent transgender people from using public accommodations that align with their gender identity. He has claimed that “facts say” that children who aren’t raised by opposite-sex couples are more likely to be drawn to drugs and crime. Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency director While serving in Congress, Pompeo voted to protect anti-same-sex marriage opinions as free speech . He has said on record that he thinks same-sex marriage and adoption should not happen because it is not "the ideal condition for childbearing."
Nikki Haley, U. S Ambassador to the United Nations
In 2010, Haley said that marriage is between “one man and one women” Three years later, when South Carolina was facing a federal lawsuit targeting South Carolina’s voter approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, she vowed to defend the law, saying she’d “fight for it every step of the way.” Haley also only agreed to endorse Romney after confirming that “he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Transition Team members
Many of Trump's transition team members have deep connections to The Family Research Council (FRC,) which "believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large." The Family Research Council often twists mainstream numbers and cites false organizations to make false and defamatory claims about LGBTQ individuals. FRC has claimed that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men and that the most effective way of reducing teen suicide is "discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual." Members of Trump's transition team, including Ken Blackwell, Kay Cole James, and Ken Klukowski have all served as fellows or executives for the FRC. Reince Priebus, Tom Price, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Pompeo have all spoken at FRC’s annual Values Voter Summit, a gathering that has included speakers comparing same-sex couples getting married to drug use and people marrying children and dogs.
Donald Trump continues to include anti-LGBTQ politicians who will likely have a huge impact on the policies he pursues. If Trump really wants to be a president for all Americans, he is going to need to include more tolerant and pro-equality members to his team.