November 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Bannon appointment ‘toxic’ for LGBT community
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon as chief strategist. (Screenshot via YouTube).

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon as chief strategist. (Screenshot via YouTube).

Despite a pledge to unite the country after his victory in the presidential election, Donald Trump has invoked the ire of progressives for selecting an “alt-right” conservative with a reputation for anti-Semitic, misogynistic and anti-LGBT views as a top adviser.

Trump named Steve Bannon, executive chair of the conservative website Breitbart News, to the role of chief strategist in the White House at the same time the president-elect designated Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus as chief of staff.

Labeled a white nationalist, Bannon has a history of hostile comments against minority groups and led a news website that published controversial material and promulgated conspiracy theories. Among Breitbart posts are pieces referring to Bill Kristol, a Republican, as a “Renegade Jew,” suggesting “Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb,” calling the Confederate flag a symbol of “a glorious heritage” and extolling the alt-right movement as a “smarter” version of “old-school racist skinheads.”

Media outlets this week called attention to Bannon’s racist and anti-Semitic views, but LGBT people have also been in his crosshairs.

During a radio interview in 2011 in which he defended Sarah Palin against criticism, Bannon used an anti-gay slur to describe women with progressive views.

“These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative,” he explained. “That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement — that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.”

Amid objections from anti-LGBT advocates over Target stores allowing transgender people to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, Bannon during a radio interview in May stoked fears with anti-transgender comments.

Bannon contended that rather than being inclusive, Target was “trying to exclude people who are decent, hard-working people who don’t want their four-year-old daughter to have to go into a bathroom with a guy with a beard in a dress.”

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement Bannon’s appointment is “a betrayal of the American people and of our democracy.”

“No one associated with the toxic views Mr. Bannon has espoused and purveyed through his news agency should be given a platform, much less elevated to a position of such prominence in our national government,” Kendell said. “We applaud those who have spoken out in opposition to Mr. Bannon’s appointment and we urge others to speak out now. We cannot look the other way as individuals who have spread messages of racism, anti-Semitism and the disparagement of women are put into positions of power and influence.”

Among those who’ve praised Bannon’s appointment are former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who called the choice “excellent,” and American Nazi Party Chair Rocky Shady. Meanwhile, civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, have called on Trump to rescind the appointment.

Cathy Renna, a lesbian New York-based public affairs specialist, said Trump’s selection of Bannon means “he’s gone from wearing a white hood to going into the White House, and I think that’s incredibly troubling for so many people.”

“I honestly think that this is a time where if you’re looking at someone like Bannon, we’re looking at someone who really targets so many different marginalized communities and minority populations and folks who have served as a target of discrimination and hate in this country, and what he does is he simply throws gasoline on the fire,” Renna said.

Led by gay Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a group of 169 U.S. House Democrats sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday calling on him to remove Bannon as chief strategist on the basis the selection undermines national unity.

“Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been the targets of violence, harassment and intimidation,” the letter says. “Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”

Breitbart hasn’t attacked gay people as much as other minority groups. One of the website’s star writers is Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s gay. A Trump supporter, Yiannopoulos has called Trump the most pro-gay candidate ever for raising the alarm about the danger Islamic extremists pose to LGBT people.

But Yiannopoulos himself has taken far-right views such as claiming all Muslims are Islamic extremists and has attacked transgender people as mentally ill. Yiannopoulos has written controversial pieces that have denigrated minorities, including articles with headlines such as “Birth Control Makes Women Crazy and Unattractive,” “Would You Rather Your Child Have Feminism or Cancer?” and “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber.”

A representative for Bannon and Breitbart didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.

Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Trump, defended Bannon on Tuesday during an interview on the Today show by touting his education and military service. Conway is a former pollster for the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage.

“I promise you he’s not scary, and he is as brilliant a tactician—and our campaign general, frankly, on the field—as everyone is also saying,” Conway said. “I know him well, I worked hand-in-glove with him. I feel that these charges are very unfair.”

Bannon isn’t the only one on Trump’s team that may spell trouble for LGBT people.

Trump’s selection of Reince Priebus as chief of staff could compel the president-elect to uphold the principles of the 2016 Republican Party platform, which seeks to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage, deny LGBT protection from discrimination under the law and hints at support for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, hailed the selection of both Priebus and Bannon to the White House, but had special praise for the RNC chief.

“I have worked closely with Reince over the last five years as he revitalized the GOP by returning the party to its true conservative principles as is evidenced by the GOP’s solidly conservative platform,” Perkins said. “He has made the GOP more effective through the implementation of a solid infrastructure that facilitated an outstanding ground game for Republicans. His leadership in rebuilding the party and promoting conservative principles helped set the stage for driving evangelical turnout to its highest level in recent memory.”

The views expressed by Bannon aren’t far from those expressed by Trump, who proposed a ban on all Muslims from entering the United States, raised fears about Islamic extremism and was accused of veiled anti-Semitism.

Renna said the selection of Bannon demonstrates Trump will advance “the backlash to the progress we’ve made having an African-American president for eight years, making so much progress on LGBT rights, women’s rights.”

“I think it’s been shocking in its impact in terms of really changing the election and I think it’s going to be a real time for some soul-searching by all of us who have been doing this work for so long, how do we reach people, how do we talk to people, how do we turn this tide a bit in a way that we can make some progress on,” Renna said. “I don’t think we can change Bannon’s mind anytime, but I think that there are millions of people in this country who are misplacing their anger, and it’s being directed at women and it’s very much obviously directed at Hillary Clinton.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • I’m not going to discredit Trump until he disappoints me. He is our president and I will support him until I see him act out against the people. Yes, he appointed this man, and we will see what will come from it. But I won’t ridicule someone who has yet to affect the population with harm while in office. We shall wait and see. Trump isn’t even in the white house yet we should give him a chance. I hope we can get more laws protecting us in the future especially from discrimination. There are many states including Texas who doesn’t have such laws and as a result many Queer people find themselves out of a job and on the streets like this new documentary filmed by activist: Let us wait and see what he will do for and with our country.

    • Trump has made it clear what he plans to support, religious freedom restoration acts and the FADA. He has said he opposes marriage equality and wanted to appoint SCOTUS nominees that would overturn the ruling in favor of it. Trump has been very frank about this.

      Trump seeks council from people like Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell,Jr. to name a few. Tell me who your friends are a I’ll tell you who you are. Even if Trump doesn’t directly push their anti-LBGT agenda, Pence will. Trump will simply rubber stamp it.

      What laws did we advance to protect us with the GOP in charge of Congress? They won’t even give us a fair hearing on such legislation. How could it possibly be better now with both Congress and the White House under GOP control? Stop being so naïve!

      He maybe your President. So what? Obama was mine and social conservatives didn’t respect him from the moment he was elected the first time! Why should we give Trump anything? You do what you want, the rest of us will press on with fighting with or without you!

      • “Tell me who your friends are a I’ll tell you who you are.”

        Unless, of course, your friends are Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers etc,then it doesn’t matter at all, right? Did you forget 2008, or is there a double standard?

        • Tell me what specific anti lgbt agenda these people have had compared to trump’s friends! That’s the topic!

          Trump’s friends like tony Perkins are dedicated to opposing lgbt advancement in particular!!!

      • Also, take the RFRA, rename it “Islamic Freedom Restoration Act and tell me Gay Inc would trash Indiana for that.

      • You are giving Trump quite a bit because your simplistic “if you support Trump you are stupid or racist” is the kind of name calling that pushes moderate democrats—that normally would have supported Trump—to vote against her. Not because I like Trump, but because I cannot stand the left’s smugness. [yea, yea, I am stupid bla bla bla]

        • Did I use the words stupid or racist? Perhaps it bothers you because you know deep down inside that to be true! A nerve has been struck!

          The right thinks everyone else is stupid and all you have to do is lead them like sheep with denials in regards to what trump and the people he is putting into
          Power will do.

          Trump was very frank about what he plans to do. His picks of pence, sessions and other extremists makes it clear where we are headed!

          You keep going back to issues on race and ignoring glbt issues.

          But yes, people take comments like Mexicans are rapists and murderers and the Muslim rhetoric as racist! We can say the same about sexism with comments made. You think those were erased or forgotten?

          As for pushing moderate democrats to support the GOP, we can argue the ultra right-wing has pushed moderate republicans to be independent. Also many republicans did not endorse or support trump’s election! Will you deny that too now?

          • “Did I use the words stupid or racist? Perhaps it bothers you because you know deep down inside that to be true!” Well, that comment pretty much proves that you cannot get beyond insults and labels. Didn’t bother with whatever else you wrote—save it for someone that cares.

          • Did I see you? that’s fine. You keep living with your denials and tunnel vision.

            You brought up the words racist and stupid.

          • Wow, you do like projecting and strawman arguments. Btw, neither “Mexican” nor “Muslim” are races.

            “The right thinks everyone else is stupid.”

            Comments like yours help.

          • Racism includes ethnicity not just race or skin color. Stop yapping with your smugness as you just make a bigger fool of yourself than people already recognize you to be!

            Frankly, what the right thinks is typically always wrong so no one really cares what you think!!

          • “as you just make a bigger fool of yourself”

            They’re not ethnicities either, shitwit.

          • Being Mexican is toilet paper wipe! The bottom line the comments were racist! Latinos can judge that for themselves!

            Not you!

          • “Being Mexican is toilet paper wipe!”

            You’re insane, you disgusting bigot.

          • I mistyped I meant you! Being Mexican is an ethnicity. If you knew anything about culture you’d know that.

          • “I mistyped”
            Yeah, right.

            “Mexican” is a nationality, twinkletits. “Hispanic” or “Latino” would be ethnicity.

            Anyway, it’s obvious you’re grossly ignorant, so your estimation of me is less than meaningless.

          • If it was my intent I would have left it that way!

            You waste a lot of time and effort on semantics to avoid the reality that trump, your master dog, made racist comments to cater to the lowest fringe elements of your party! You can’t get around that. Latinos agree!

            You’re a homophobic sob with your anti-gay slur of twinklettes!

            If my estimation of you never mattered you wouldn’t keep
            Posting responses to my posts. Most be your head up
            Your rear end cutting off the oxygen and keeping you in the dark. Hence your BS ideology and outrageous denials of reality!

    • The suggestion here is that we should either give Trump the benefit of the doubt or a blank slate. However, there is no doubt about what kind of person Trump is; he’s been demonstrating that to us for a long time (see: any of his public actions). As for the blank slate, even if you do grant that (for whatever reason), look at the appointments he’s already made. Steve “I’m not racist, I’m just white nationalist” Bannon is in a position of great power. Mike “still supports gay conversion therapy” Pence is our Vice President. Reince “(just google him)” Preibus is chief of staff. These are people who will do real damage as soon as they can.

      It is fair to say that we shouldn’t be fighting imaginary battles; there’s nothing to do now but prepare for what these people are going to try to do to us. What is not fair (or wise) is to say that we should pay respect to a man who has no respect for the office of the president or the people of this country.

    • “I’m not going to discredit Trump until he disappoints me.”

      “Let us wait and see what he will do for and with our country.”

      What part of appointing a white nationalist to his innermost inner circle either can you not see or does not disappoint you?

      • Say, maybe you can provide the evidence that the liberal media has failed to provide?

        • Is that a Klu Klax Klan hood you’re wearing?

          • My little melting snowflake the KKK was founded and sustained by the Democrat Party and most of us know it.

          • My little underpants stain with mounting stench, most of those democrats became republicans after the Dems under Kennedy and Johnson supported the 1964 civil rights act!!! Storm Thurmond for one!!!

            You left those facts out expeditiously!

          • I left out nothing. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed without Republican votes. You Democrats need to come to grips with what happened to you on Nov 8. Not only were Obama and Clinton utterly rejected, Republicans retained the House and Senate, state houses and governorships even dog catchers. The Democrat Party has ceased to be a national party and can barely be considered a regional party retaining only a few crime ridden cities. Now the DNC may be poised to choose a radical muslim as chairman. Will that make you happy?

          • First of all, today’s Kkk I’m sure doesn’t vote for democrats they vote for the GOP. We know they didn’t vote for Obama or Hillary!

            I don’t have to come to grips with anything regarding the status quo anymore than you did when Obama was president and the Dems controlled congress!

            Don’t get so uppity or smug either! Many people didn’t vote, Hillary got a million more votes than trump in the popular vote. It wasn’t a mandate!

            As people see the GOP policies attempt to dismantle progress achieved and extremists push an agenda they don’t want things will change. Congress does have mid-term elections.

            Ryan wants to rip us off of Medicare and give us vouchers instead! They want to roll back row v. Wade! You’ll have a fight on your hands!!

            Sessions as an AG is A disaster with a very anti-lgbt record! It just a sign of things to come!

            Your arrogance and chip on your shoulder will be the beginning of your comeuppance and down fall!

            Wait until trump fails to deliver on bringing back manufacturing jobs in abundance!!! That’s a dead end industry which automation will continue to dwindle! Most economist agree he can’t do much to reverse the decline!

          • My God you spread lies. Get your ignorant hands on a copy of the Constitution of the United States and check out Article II Section I.

          • This is obviously your full time job hack! Waiting for my response and trolling this website. Your the liar as everything I said has been reported in the press! I can back it up!

            You may think you can dupe others with your standard response fool but I’ll keep you in check!

          • You can be sure I’ll bite you good! You’d be a woman if it was physical!

            As for sessions, gives us an example where he did good for the glbt community!

            I’m sure there will be civil unrest with him!

      • Why are you lying?

  • “Labeled a white nationalist” – by whom?

    Do you still rape your pre-teen brother?

  • Well Trump is only the latest imbecile to create problems for Gay persons in the USA. The shallow and opportunistic Republican Party has funded and sponsored hateful anti LGBT venomous propaganda for decades.

    • So Hillary Clinton accepting millions upon millions from Middle Eastern countries and wishing to bring tens of thousands of gay hating men to the USA is OK with you. Your woman lost…bigly time!

  • Trump’s election is a green light for anti-bigots, anti-immigrant racists and union busters. Trump is going to make even more hateful appointments and policies because the Democrats nominated an unelectable rightwing candidate who was rejected by millions of radicalized youth, including Black Lives Matter activists and former Sanders supporters who abandoned him and the DP when he, as expected, abandoned them in favor of another Clinton.

    This is the third night of continuing mass demonstrations which spread to new cities and are growing. Built by social media and networking with cells, they are remarkable for their spontaneity, solidarity and the breadth of communities and movements involved. The base of anti-Trump forces will grow even larger as it becomes clear that he cannot make good, and doesn’t want to make good, on his promises.

    The natural instinct of the demonstrators is absolutely correct – to build a mass movement around every rightward step of the Trump regime, and there will be many. Mass action is the way to win. Bogus involvement in the DP attempts to reform it and the RP are the way to lose.

  • Steve: you , Pence and Jeff Sessions need to get to work on bringing back DOMA once new SCOTUS justice is appointed. We have your power to put those disgusting sodomite homosexuals back in the closet and away from our school kids !

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