Ten of the nation’s most prominent conservative leaders, including several known for their strident anti-LGBT views, hailed the election of Donald Trump as president, calling it a historic sign that the American people will support a social and economic conservative agenda over the next four years.
During a news conference on Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, some of the conservative leaders, including Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, predicted Trump would support the positions of the 2016 Republican Party Platform.
The platform, which was formally approved at the Republican National Convention in August, is considered the most anti-LGBT document ever adopted by a major U.S. political party.
Although none of the conservative leaders who spoke at the news conference mentioned LGBT issues in their presentations, the characterization by some of the GOP platform as an unprecedented confirmation of conservative and “evangelical” principles suggests that they expect Trump to follow most or all of its provisions.
“This is a historic moment,” said Perkins. “This is a repudiation of the Obama years and a rejection of the anti-evangelical movement.”
Perkins said that unlike previous Republican presidential candidates, “Trump did not fight the Republican platform, he supported it.”
He said Trump also stated in a strong way that the U.S. military should not be used for “social experimentation,” a reference that LGBT rights opponents have made to efforts by Obama and Democrats to lift the ban on allowing gays and transgender people to serve openly in the military.
When asked by the Blade after the news conference what they thought about Trump’s general statement of support for LGBT people during his speech at the Republican Convention and during campaign rallies this summer and fall, longtime conservative leaders Richard Viguerie and Brent Bozell said they did not think that would alienate them from a Trump White House.
“No, I don’t think there is going to be any conflict,” said Viguerie. “None of us agree with anybody else 100 percent of the time. And there are going to be times when we disagree with President-elect Trump,” he said.
“But I think the cultural issues agenda is going to be dealt with now in a very favorable way to conservatives,” said Viguerie.
Bozell said the response by conservative movement leaders to Trump’s positions on LGBT rights would depend on how Trump defines such positions.
“If it is the type of gay rights that says you should turn religious freedom into a hate crime, which some advocate and that kind of craziness, no, we’re not going to support it,” he said. “If it is one of religious freedom and including gay rights as religious freedom, I think maybe we will. And that would stay true to the Republican Party platform.”
David McIntosh, an official with the conservative economic advocacy group Club for Growth, who also spoke at the news conference, told the Blade his organization does not take a position on LGBT-related issues. But he said prominent members of the organization, including gay businessman and billionaire Peter Thiel, who supported Trump and spoke at the GOP convention, are vocal advocates for LGBT rights.
“We wouldn’t take a position either way on that,” he said in referring to LGBT rights. However, McIntosh said, “it wouldn’t be a factor for us whichever way he chose to go” on LGBT issues in referring to Trump.
Longtime social conservative leader and LGBT rights opponent Ralph Reed told the news conference that Trump also made history by releasing a list of possible Supreme Court nominees during the campaign that have a pro-life perspective.
Reed and other speakers at the news conference, including Jenny Nance of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, said they were confident that Trump would support legislation introduced in the GOP-controlled Congress to cut off all federal funds for pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood.