Richard Grenell, the out former ambassador to Germany, has made it a priority this week to talk voters into believing President Donald Trump is “the most pro-gay president in American history.” Grenell has starred in a new public relations campaign and was hired by the Republican Party to do LGBTQ-specific voter outreach.
Since Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues is atrocious, it’s been a hard sell. But Grenell’s cold shoulder to the community during his speech and subsequent Twitter attack on one of the most well-known LGBTQ civil rights organizations haven’t helped matters.
During his primetime speech before the Republican National Convention last night, Grenell didn’t even bother to bring up the subject directly – an acknowledgment, activists say, that there are some lies so big even the Trump campaign can’t get people to believe them.
“Leading up to the RNC, Richard Grenell engaged in desperate acts of fanfare to spread lies about the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ record and tonight he did not utter a mention of LGBTQ people on the main stage. He unequivocally does not speak for the vast majority of LGBTQ Americans and allies who see through the Trump Administration’s lies about its abysmal LGBTQ record,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
“Though Grenell will no doubt continue to misrepresent the Trump Administration’s history in an appalling attempt to sway LGBTQ people and our allies, our community will remain vigilant and point to the truth,” Ellis added. “The facts are the facts and this administration has attacked the LGBTQ community in rhetoric and policy over 170 times, even most recently arguing to the Supreme Court in favor of allowing adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples.”
Instead of speaking to any specific group of potential voters, Grenell touted Trump’s nationalist “America First” policy and seemed to imply that advances in LGBTQ civil rights would come “at the expense of another” during a speech mostly focused on foreign policy.
“America First does not advance the interests of one group of Americans at the expense of another,” Grenell said during his turn at the podium. “It has no bias about red and blue, educated or not educated, urban or rural. America First is simply the belief that politicians should focus on the equality and dignity of every American, and that the duty is fulfilled by promoting the safety and wealth of the American people.”
Following his appearance on television, Grenell took to Twitter to blast the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The group had criticized his public relations campaign earlier in the day.
Grenell urged corporate sponsors to stop donating to the group, saying the companies “are supporting ugly partisanship.”
He also solicited donations for the Log Cabin Republicans, the partisan group behind the public relations campaign aimed at LGBTQ voters. The organization produced the video starring Grenell.
“‘Gaslight Grenell’ doesn’t speak for LGBTQ people or our movement. As a gay man, ‘Gaslight Grenell’ couldn’t even say ‘gay’ or ‘LGBTQ,’ which is unsurprising, given that this administration has taken every opportunity to dehumanize LGBTQ people and undermine our basic rights. It’s also unsurprising given we have exposed Trump’s lies and Grenell’s hypocrisy in supporting him,” HRC president Alphonso David responded in an emailed statement.
Grenell’s tenure as ambassador was rocked with repeated scandals and German officials reportedly “shunned” the gay Trump sycophant, describing him as “narcissistic.” Grenell’s appointment as acting Director of National Intelligence made him the first out gay man to hold a Cabinet-level position.
After leaving his position as acting DNI, Grenell did not return to Germany and news outlets in the country gleefully reported that he would likely resign as ambassador.
From the beginning, Grenell’s appointment was controversial. His confirmation hearings were held up over a “litany of derogatory comments about women’s personal appearances” on Twitter.
As ambassador to Germany, Grenell announced a new federal initiative to decriminalize homosexuality around the world and said it demonstrated Trump’s commitment to civil rights and the LGBTQ community. Asked about it by reporters, Trump admitted he didn’t know anything about it.
Activists have pointed out that the “sham” initiative hasn’t actually done anything.
Corporations who give money to Human Rights Campaign are supporting ugly partisanship.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) August 27, 2020
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) August 27, 2020
Gaslight Grenell strikes again. pic.twitter.com/wwXMqHSvuw
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) August 27, 2020