Political pundits call this the “silly season” because of all the absurd, dishonest and hypocritical statements made by and on behalf of candidates at election time. There is no better example of this than the hysterical screeds against gay Republicans (including Log Cabin Republicans) simply because they support Donald Trump or haven’t gotten on the #NeverTrump train. The premise that LGBT voters should oppose Donald Trump because he’s anti-gay (among many other false reasons) is absurd, and it typifies the political myopia that affects so many in our community who view everything through a gay lens, demanding complete conformity to their politically correct agenda, unless, it sees, you’re a Democrat.
After all, Bill Clinton gave us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, yet he was enthusiastically supported by LGBT organizations. It was the same with John Kerry, who not only opposed same-sex marriage but also supported two state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage in Missouri and Massachusetts. Of course, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also opposed marriage when they ran, coming out in support just recently, only after it was politically safe and necessary for them to do so. Yet none of them were labeled bigots or anti-gay because of their positions. It’s only when it’s a Republican who disagrees that the gay knives come out.
The fact is that any honest look at Trump’s record and views on gay rights shows that most of the attacks by gay Democrats on his views are simply incorrect.
Trump, of course, has been a New York Democrat and social liberal for most of his adult life, chummy with many Democratic politicians, including the Clintons, and active in many charities, including support for AIDS charities. He has a long record of public support for expanding gay rights, including adding sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He stated support for employment nondiscrimination as far back as 2000 in his book, “The America We Deserve,” in which he wrote of his support for a country “free of racism, discrimination against women, or discrimination against people based on sexual orientation.”
He publicly supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and in an interview with The Brody File (a very conservative radio show) in 2011, in response to a question about civil unions, he said, “First of all, I live in New York. I know many, many gay people. Tremendous people. And to be honest with you … I haven’t totally formed my opinion. But there can be no discrimination against gays.”
During the Republican primary campaign, he was famously accused by some of his rivals, particularly Ted Cruz, of supporting “New York values,” code words for gay rights, but he never backed away from his support, stating in February that the country would continue to see “forward motion” on gay rights under his presidency, hardly the stuff of anti-gay bigotry.
After the horrific terrorist attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando by radical Islamist Omar Mateen, Trump gave an impassioned speech denouncing it, specifically citing the long history of homophobia in the Islamic world, where gays are imprisoned or killed in many Muslim nations. While many other Republicans were afraid to explicitly make the connection between radical Islam and homophobia, Trump was not, and yet for that he was attacked by the likes of HRC’s Chad Griffin, a sycophant for Hillary Clinton.
Trump and his surrogates repeatedly raised the issue of gay rights during the Republican convention, and Trump himself chose the well-known gay entrepreneur Peter Thiel to give the keynote address, in which he publicly announced his sexual orientation to the cheers and applause of many in the audience. Yet instead of celebrating its symbolic importance, the gay media and establishment ignored or dismissed it in their continuing role as shills for the Democratic Party.
Put perhaps the most dramatic expression of Trump’s fundamental support for gay rights was his heartfelt acknowledgement of the “GLBTQ community” in his acceptance speech at the convention, a truly historic step, one that would have been applauded by the Blade and gay politicos if it had been uttered by a Democrat.
It is certainly fair to criticize Trump for telling social conservatives that he would consider appointing justices to the Supreme Court who oppose the Obergefell decision, yet it would be extremely unlikely that even if Trump truly wanted to reverse it that he could do so.
There’s no doubt one can find much to criticize in Trump (and, for that matter, Hillary Clinton), but to label him anti-gay or a mouthpiece of the religious right is so off-base and incorrect it calls into question the credibility and honesty of those making such accusations. According to a recent poll of gay voters by NBC News, 36 percent of registered LGBT voters support a candidate other than Clinton, with 28 percent supporting either Trump or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian. It’s time for gay Democrats to stop reviling anyone who doesn’t agree with their political perspectives and try instead to exhibit the same tolerance they demand of everyone else.
David Lampo is the author of ‘A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights’ and served on the boards of Equality Virginia and Log Cabin Republicans.