Donald Trump’s new press secretary has a long history of anti-LGBTQ comments, including saying that transgender rights are a threat to women in bathrooms, that marriage equality is an attack on “religious institutions” and states’ rights, and that Mike Pence “loves” LGBTQ people.
Last week, former Fox News and CNN producer Kayleigh McEnany, 31, was picked by Trump as his fourth press secretary following the ouster of Stephanie Grisham, who refused to hold press conferences during her nine-month tenure.
Less than a week later, GLAAD found a bunch of anti-LGBTQ comments she has made over her short career.
McEnany, who sometimes wrote columns for conservative websites and appeared on CNN as a commentator, was known for her unfailing loyalty to the Trump administration. Her loyalty has paid off with a new job.
Of course, defending the Trump administration over the last few years meant defending anti-LGBTQ policy.
In a 2017 CNN appearance, McEnany said that anti-discrimination measures for transgender people will lead to “straight men coming in and really being a predator against women.”
During the segment, she defended the Trump administration’s decision to remove Obama-era transgender protections, and she insisted at first that the only reason it was happening was “deference to the states,” not explaining why transgender people in different states should have different rights.
Then she changed tracks and said there’s “a viable argument” that transgender protections “could be utilized by some men, for instance, to go into female bathrooms” and brought up “voyeurism issues.” She claimed this happened at Target once.
McEnany did not bring up the fear, harassment, and violence transgender people face when using gendered bathrooms – the mere possibility that cis men would attack cis women and then later justify it by referring to transgender protections was reason enough for her to oppose them.
She also defended Mike Pence when CNN host Don Lemon said that he opposes LGBTQ rights.
“Mike Pence loves all people and President-elect Donald Trump has already said he’s not going to roll back the rights that we’ve seen in the gay community,” McEnany said in that CNN appearance.
But her opposition to LGBTQ equality didn’t start with Trump. Marriage equality was a target of her ire for years.
In a 2015 column discussing the Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges case before it legalized marriage equality all over the country, McEnany dismissed LGBTQ activists’ arguments as “a lot of farcical blabber about state-sanctioned discrimination.”
To McEnany, that case was entirely about states’ rights, because it’s not discrimination when states do it.
After the Obergefell decision, she appeared on another show and said “there’s going to be an infringement upon” religious liberty, saying that “religious institutions” would be forced to perform same-sex marriages, a common argument used by conservatives at the time to make people afraid that LGBTQ equality would close churches.
And on Twitter, she called Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in that case “awesome” because he included juvenile taunt about liberals in his decision.
McEnany also appeared on a radio show hosted by Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins alongside a conversion therapy activist. FRC has been designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The show was linked by GLAAD earlier this week but is no longer available on FRC’s website.
Besides LGBTQ people, McEnany has also denounced women’s rights. In a column on the far-right website The Blaze, she called feminism “an embarrassment to my gender,” arguing that women’s equality “has already been won.”
She was particularly bothered by how feminists oppose slut-shaming and support contraception.
“I’m certain Dr. Martin Luther King would object to equating civil rights with sexuality,” she wrote. “That aside, the feminists of today reduce women to their sexuality, and in doing so, set women’s rights back by huge strides.”
“The feminists of today are the equivalent of the whining rich kid,” wrote McEnany, “whose parents toiled through great pains to provide them with a future they can’t respect or cherish because they have no grasp of real repression, real struggle, and real liberation.”
Contemporary feminism “looks a lot more like attention-seeking, shallow cowardice.”
In February, just before taking on her current role as White House press secretary, McEnany was already defending Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here,” she said in an appearance on the Fox Business Network. “And isn’t it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama.”
Several days later, she said on Fox News that Democrats “root” for coronavirus “to take hold.”
“They have a demented dream of taking down President Trump,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many Americans they destroy in order to get there.”
Grisham, McEnany’s predecessor, was appointed to be Melania Trump’s chief of staff.