We can thank Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner for thwarting an anti-LGBT executive order that would have enabled widespread discrimination against the community, the New York Times reported last week.
According to the report, “Mr. Kushner, a lifelong Democrat, and Ms. Trump, an independent, travel in liberal social circles and have long supported L.G.B.T. rights. Neither had seen the order before details were leaked. They expressed their dissatisfaction to Mr. Trump’s other advisers, and then weighed in directly with the president, who opposes same-sex marriage but has spoken out against discrimination.”
So should we all rush out and buy some of Ivanka’s tacky jewelry on QVC in thanks? Should we feel grateful that the only thing standing between LGBT Americans and legalized discrimination sanctioned by the president himself is his privileged liberal daughter and her urbane husband?
And what happens when Steve Bannon pushes Kushner out the door, which seems increasingly likely as the days pass? Who will stick up for the poor gays then, Melania and Milo?
It’s still hard to believe that we’ve gone from fierce advocate President Obama to First Fag Hag Ivanka in a few short weeks. Obama spoke movingly about the LGBT progress seen under his watch in his final press conference when he called on the Blade’s Chris Johnson for one of his last questions as president. (The significance of that moment was widely underreported; it marked the first time a sitting president called on an LGBT media outlet in a press conference. It may seem like a small thing, but it was the result of untold hours of hard, thankless work by Johnson and others before him who toiled in obscurity in the briefing room waiting for a break.)
In his trademark modest delivery, Obama said: “The primary heroes in this stage of our — our growth as a Democracy and a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said, this is who I am and I’m proud of it.
“And, that opened people’s minds and opened their hearts. And, eventually, laws caught up. But, I don’t think any of that would have happened without the activism, in some cases loud and noisy, but in some cases just quiet and very personal.”
We’ve gone from Obama’s poignancy to Ivanka’s whispered pleas for mercy, a fraught trajectory for sure. LGBT rights shouldn’t hinge on the private pleadings of the president’s daughter. Trump pledged to support the LGBTQ community and he should honor it by rejecting so-called “religious freedom” orders, not because Ivanka and Jared have some gay friends who might not invite them to brunch but because it’s the right thing to do.
There are reportedly hundreds of draft executive orders circulating among Trump’s incompetent advisers. This is no way to run a White House. It’s only a matter of time before Bannon and Mike Pence get their way and reward their bigoted base with an overt attack on LGBT equality.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.