Gay billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and a board member at Facebook, is slated to serve as a California delegate for Donald Trump.
His support for the presumptive GOP nominee puts him at odds with every underrepresented group in the country, as well as with his own peers in Silicon Valley.
Mark Zuckerberg, who founded and leads the company Thiel advises, recently said, “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls. Instead of building walls, we can help people build bridges.”
Additionally, Trump has feuded with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and demanded that Apple manufacture its iPhones in the United States. Thiel’s PayPal co-founder Elon Musk is a Hillary Clinton supporter.
In each election, it seems there emerges a prominent gay supporter for the Republican of the moment, raising the question: Are we a monolith or is it OK for LGBT people to vote Republican, seemingly against their own interests? Of course there are principled Republicans — Allan Kittleman in Maryland comes to mind, along with the New York Republicans who helped pass marriage equality.
Sen. John McCain has been on the wrong side of most LGBT priorities, but he struck a more inclusive tone after winning his party’s nomination in 2008, granting an interview to the Blade (a first for a GOP nominee) and speaking eloquently about the gay people in his life who have impacted him and shaped his views of the community.
Trump isn’t one for such thoughtful discourse, famously deriding McCain’s military service because he “got caught.” Trump’s campaign has dodged our interview requests for a year and he hasn’t had much to say about LGBT issues. But make no mistake that the prospect of a Trump presidency should strike fear into LGBT people from all walks of life — even the billionaires among us.
He has pledged to immediately revoke President Obama’s executive orders, which could include the order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors. That order covers about 20 percent of the entire American workforce. Trump has also promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Obergefell ruling and end marriage equality. He has endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act, a federal version of the so-called “religious freedom” bills that would legalize discrimination against LGBT Americans.
With one Supreme Court seat vacant and three more justices aged 77 or older, it is imperative that Trump not be allowed to make selections to the high court. The names he’s floated so far for the high court are a who’s who of anti-LGBT bigotry.
In addition, the Center for American Progress has compiled a list of eight executive actions benefiting LGBT rights enacted under the Obama administration that Trump could undo. Among them, as the Blade reported this week, is a rule prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in health care and insurance, a Department of Housing & Urban Development regulation prohibiting anti-LGBT bias in government-sponsored housing and endorsement of federal LGBT non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act.
With such ominous signs of how a President Trump would treat LGBT Americans, why would Thiel (or any other LGBT person) support him? It’s impossible to know for sure in Thiel’s case, because he’s declined interview requests on the subject.
Thiel describes himself as a libertarian. Forbes magazine reported that he was a large donor to 2012 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul and contributed money to Ted Cruz’s 2012 race for the U.S. Senate in Texas. He also contributed in 2015 to a political action committee raising money for the 2016 presidential candidacy of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
More alarming than his pro-Trump leanings, Thiel was recently revealed to be the mastermind behind the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit against Gawker media. He is reportedly nursing a nine-year grudge because Gawker outed him in 2007. The $140 million judgment against Gawker could spell bankruptcy for the gossip site, a frightening prospect that will likely have a chilling effect on media outlets looking to report on the vindictive and thin-skinned businessman.
It’s unconscionable that wealthy and prominent gays would support Trump and enable his overtly racist, nationalistic and homophobic promises. Thoughtful people of all stripes should recognize Trump’s views for what they are — incoherent racist rants — and vote for Hillary Clinton in November.