What will President Trump mean for LGBTQ rights?
Published Friday, November 11, 2016 7:26PM EST
A leading LGBTQ rights advocate says he thinks a Donald Trump administration will chip away at hard-won rights, even though he doesn’t expect same-sex marriage to be overturned.
Joe Solmonese, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, told CTV News Channel that although Trump’s views on LGBTQ rights may not yet be fully “formed,” Vice-President-elect Mike Pence has a worrisome record.
Trump has had an inconsistent stance on same-sex marriage. When Elton John married his long-time partner David Furnish in 2005, Trump wrote on his blog that he knows them both and “it’s a marriage that’s going to work.”
However, Trump told the New York Times in 2011 that he is opposed to same-sex marriage. “I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist,” he said.
After the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Trump said he did not support a constitutional amendment that would allow states to re-ban marriage equality.
But during the campaign he said he opposes it and told Fox News he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court judges who would be committed to overturning the ruling. Trump is likely to nominate at least one new justice.
Pence has been more consistent in his opposition to LGBTQ rights.
In 2000, Pence campaigned on banning gays from the military and spending money on organizations that help “homosexuals … seeking to change their sexual behavior.” It was an endorsement of conversion therapy, which has been discredited and outlawed in some states and provinces.
Last year, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana which some businesses have interpreted as giving them the right to deny the LGBTQ community services like wedding cakes. That was despite threats from corporations that they would pull business from Indiana and not locate new jobs in the state.
When it comes to transgender rights, Trump has flip-flopped. He told NBC’s Today show that he opposed a North Carolina state law that bans people from using public washrooms and changerooms that don’t correspond with the sex on their birth certificates, stating that there had been “very few complaints” before the bill and people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.”
But after a backlash from social conservatives, Trump backtracked and said he supported the law.
Transgender people are also concerned about Trump’s promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The act has a non-discrimination provision that ensures transgender people can access gender-affirming health care.
Solmonese said that he foresees more laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “that would effectively say, marriage is the law of the land but if you have any religious objection to it then you can opt out.”
He said the LGBTQ community must make it clear that “any threats to that progress will be met with the most strident pushback … whether it’s corporate America, our religious friends, our friends in progressive movements or organized labour.”