President Trump hailed conservatives at the Heritage Foundation known for opposition to LGBT rights Tuesday night as “titans in the fight to defend, promote and preserve our great American heritage.”
Trump delivered remarks at the think-tank during its annual President’s Club meeting largely to promote his tax reform legislative package, but also to laud the social conservative ideals of the organization.
“Everyone here tonight understands a core truth, that for America to have confidence in our future, we must have pride in our history,” Trump said. “As Americans, we have inherited a special legacy of freedom, culture, laws, traditions and values.”
But a legacy of America with a history of LGBT people fighting for equal rights, including the Stonewall riots of 1969, and the value of expanding and protecting civil rights apparently wasn’t what Trump had in mind.
Addressing the culture wars, Trump decried the desecration of statues of Christopher Columbus, asking “What’s next?” and said “our great American flag should be treated with reverence and respect” — a reference to his consternation over NFL football players taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial inequity.
With respect to immigration, Trump touted his efforts to combat sanctuary cities and ending “chain immigration,” a process known to immigration supporters as family reunification.
Trump also praised the Heritage Foundation for its faithfulness to strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution — often cited as excuse for opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.
“We believe that the Constitution is the greatest political document in human history and that judges should interpret the Constitution as written,” Trump said.
In the wake of news Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reached an agreement to ensure insurance companies receive CSR payments crucial to keeping down premiums in Obamacare, Trump expressed support for the deal despite being responsible for nixing those payments in the first place.
“And I’m pleased the Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster and work with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people,” Trump said. “While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”
For decades, the Heritage Foundation has taken a lead role in opposition not only to same-sex marriage, but LGBT rights in general.
Although the Heritage Foundation’s work isn’t limited to anti-LGBT advocacy, the think-tank for decades has made restrictions on LGBT rights a significant part of its work. The think-tank has written policy and legal briefs against same-sex marriage, opposed non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and resisted LGBT-inclusion in the U.S. military.
Earlier this year, the Heritage Foundation sent out an notice to U.S. House members to urging them to vote for a legislative ban on transition-related health care for transgender people in the U.S. military.
After the Justice Department this month issued “religious freedom” guidance undermining LGBT rights, the Daily Signal, the blog for the Heritage Foundation, hailed the action was a “promise kept” by Trump.
One former policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, Roger Severino, wrote anti-trans policy pieces at the think-tank. Among his articles were screeds against transgender military service and the Obama administration’s litigation against North Carolina anti-trans House Bill 2. (Trump later appointed Severino at a position in the Department of Health & Human Services charged defending a federal non-discrimination rule for transgender health.)
A current senior at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan T. Anderson, has built a reputation as leading anti-LGBT advocate, arguing same-sex marriage and transgender rights are a violation of natural law. According to his bio, Anderson is working on a book titled, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.”
For Trump, the efforts by the Heritage Foundation were worthy of commendation during his remarks. Among the individuals Trump praised during the speech was Edwin Meese III, a distinguished fellow emeritus at the Heritage Foundation who said a court ruling for same-sex marriage “ignores facts and common sense.”
“You understand that our glorious heritage is the foundation of everything we hope to achieve,” Trump said. “You understand that human progress is built upon a foundation of timeless truths. These truths are immortalized in our founding documents. And the most important truths are Founders understood was this: Freedom is not a gift from government, freedom is a gift from God.”