Trump's Pride pettiness

  • Wednesday June 7, 2017
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President Donald Trump's decision not to issue an LGBT proclamation to kick off Pride Month is not surprising. It's just the latest example of his pettiness and prejudice and one more piece of evidence that he is no friend of our community. We probably took for granted President Barack Obama issuing a Pride proclamation on the first of every June, but in truth, no other Republican president ever issued one. We didn't expect Trump to announce one, and this deliberate oversight should silence Trump apologists and those who think that his daughter, Ivanka, is the "moderating" voice in the administration who can guide him on LGBT issues. She just lost a big battle last week when the president announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, which was at the top of her agenda.

What is far more important than Trump going silent on Pride is the fact that we don't need his validation. And coming from him, such a proclamation would be insincere, given the various anti-LGBT initiatives he and his administration have promoted. We wouldn't want an affirming Pride message from a president whose education secretary doesn't believe in equal restroom access for trans students, for example.

Trump's refusal to issue a proclamation has not had an effect at various federal departments – at least not yet. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a Pride statement this week. The Department of Defense announced it is celebrating LGBT Pride Month "to recognize DoD's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service members and civilians," according to a news release. Its annual celebration is scheduled for Monday, June 12.

That date, of course, is a sad one, as it's also the first anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We will join others who will pause in memory of the 49 mostly gay Latino victims who were killed and the dozens more who were injured while they were enjoying Latin night at the popular club. In the 12 months since that dark day, we have seen no progress on gun safety. What we have seen is a race to the bottom and the disappearance of civil political discourse – on guns and everything else. Last year candidate Trump exploited the Pulse attack to call for suspending immigration "from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or allies." He went after the Pulse shooter, Omar Mateen, falsely claiming Mateen was born in Afghanistan when in fact he was a U.S. citizen, born in New York.

After he became president, Trump tried to institute a travel ban, but federal judges blocked it. This week, he took to Twitter and seemed to undermine his attorneys' efforts to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate his second travel ban, which was also blocked by the courts. "That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people," Trump tweeted Monday. But regardless of what the Supreme Court does, his travel ban wouldn't have applied to homegrown terrorists like Mateen.

What Trump's proposed travel ban has done is unite LGBT and immigrant communities – and others – to resist the administration's heavy-handed attempt to curtail freedom. Our community includes many immigrants, who often arrive in the U.S. because they've been persecuted for their sexual orientation or gender identity in their home countries. They want the ability to live freely, but now have to confront the reality of a president who opposes them if they come from Mexico ("Build that wall") or certain Muslim-majority countries (the subject of the travel ban). We can express our solidarity and resistance this Sunday, June 11, at the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C. or the numerous satellite marches that are taking place around the country, including San Jose.

Last summer during the Republican convention, just a few weeks after the Pulse shooting, Trump promised to "protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me. And I have to say as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said."

Those in the convention hall may have been cheering, but it wasn't because they suddenly became friends of our community; it was more likely because they cheered everything Trump said, whether they personally agreed with him or not.

Trump has not protected us, or anyone else for that matter. Instead, his policies are based on the rhetoric of fear of the "other" (nonwhite). His supporters love it when Trump bashes the media and criticizes foreign countries. It's unfortunate that he is embarrassing the U.S. on the world stage and using the mass shooting of mostly LGBT people to justify the need for more guns and tougher immigration laws.

On Thursday (June 8), according to the Washington Blade, Trump will speak to a conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group that consists of anti-LGBT religious leaders. (This also happens to be the same day that former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired, is to testify before a Senate committee. No distraction there.)

We're not angry that Trump didn't issue a Pride proclamation. We're angry that his administration is careening our country off a cliff, and about 40 percent of citizens in approval surveys are content to watch the wreckage from the sidelines.