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LGBTQ rights will likely suffer under a Donald Trump presidency, say advocates

Donald Trump LGBT flag
Photo: AP

The realities of a Donald Trump presidency are starting to set in, even as we are still left guessing at how the future will look under the new administration.

LGBTQ rights advocates have been expressing their concern at what it will mean for the state of LGBTQ rights, which will likely take a hit under the new leadership of a President Trump.

While Trump attempted to appeal to LGBTQ voters at various points in his campaign, including claiming he would protect the community from “the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology” during his speech at the Republican National Convention and waving an upside down Pride flag during a rally, he has voiced support for anti-LGBTQ policies and chose an anti-LGBTQ running mate. He wound up with just 14 percent of the LGBTQ vote, which is less than what most Republicans receive from that voting bloc.

“It’s a very bitter time,” Rachel Tiven, CEO of the civil rights organization Lambda Legal, tells NPR. “He has promised to appoint people to executive branch agencies, and within the White House and the Justice Department, who are hostile to LGBT people.”

Trump just named Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, to head up his administration’s domestic policy. Blackwell has called homosexuality a lifestyle choice that can be changed.

Jay Brown, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, says the top search question on their website is “should I hurry and get married?”

Calls to LGBTQ crisis hotlines are also on the rise, Time reports.

“This is a devastating loss for our community,” Brown tells The New York Times. “It is something a lot of folks are still trying to wrap their heads around.”

“All across America right now there are millions of people who are terrified,” says Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says Trump’s victory should act as “a huge wake-up call” that means transgender people need to “explain who we are” to Trump voters.

“In a very real sense, our lives, our ability to work, to attend school, to obtain health care, are at the mercy of a new administration,” Minter tells Reuters.

While Trump initially said he supported trans people using whatever bathrooms make them most comfortable, he later walked that back and said he sides with states like North Carolina, who passed a so-called “bathroom bill” with House Bill 2, in the battle over these rights.

Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, points out that the GOP platform, to which Trump will be held, is staunchly anti-LGBTQ, including supporting state’s rights to limit transgender bathroom use, opposition to same-sex marriage, and support for conversion therapy.

She also notes that his choice in a vice presidential candidate is telling.

“What we know about Mike Pence is that he led a direct, massive and concerted effort in the state of Indiana to deny equality to L.G.B.T. people,” she says. “It’s not like Trump didn’t know who he was.”

Pence has supported conversion therapy and opposed same-sex marriage and LGBTQ non-discrimination protections in the past. He also passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people, before amending it to prevent such discrimination after serious political pressure to do so.

Keisling says the fight for LGBTQ rights will go on and that she has faith in “the strength and resilience of transgender people.”

“We are going to keep working to advance policy,” she adds. “We’re going to fight like hell to keep existing policies, and we are going to win more than we are going to lose.”

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