Politics

Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights has been vile from the moment he took office. We kept a list.

President Trump stands in front of a burning pride flag
Photo: Graham Gremore

From the moment he stepped into the White House, President Donald Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights has continued to get worse and worse.

It has now been over 3 years, and despite administration officials’ claims that he is a “pro-LGBTQ” president, the attacks from the White House are still coming. From erasing any mentions of LGBTQ rights from federal websites minutes after his inauguration to supporting a school’s right to fire a gay teacher, Trump’s LGBTQ rights record couldn’t be more heinous.

Related: If Donald Trump fools America twice, shame on us

Thankfully, our friends at GLAAD run the Trump Accountability Project, and they have kept a tally of the nonstop barrage on the community’s civil rights. From erasing our issues to allowing healthcare providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people, it’s all on the list.

And, of course, we’ve been here reporting it all for you. We’ll continue to monitor the situation with our partners at GLAAD until Trump finally leaves office – and update this list as necessary.

A Complete List of the Trump Administration’s Record on LGBTQ Rights

2020

  • October 5, 2020 – On the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito “take a legal baseball bat” to the court’s 2015 decision legalizing marriage equality, claiming the decision “enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe marriage equality is between one man and one woman as bigots.” Justice Thomas writes that Kim Davis, the public official who had refused to issue marriage licenses based on her religious belief, is a “victim” of a so-called “cavalier treatment of religion.”
  • September 29, 2020 – Pres. Trump’s son Eric claims that LGBTQ people will “come out in full force” to support his father. GLAAD releases its scientific poll of LGBTQ voters, showing 76% support for Trump’s opponent, VP Joe Biden.
  • September 26, 2020 – President Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. In her speech, Barrett says she adheres to the same judicial philosophy as the late justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented in cases advancing LGBTQ rights, including calling the Obergefell decision “a threat to American democracy.” Barrett has stated views against marriage equality, defended dissenters of the Obergefell, delivered speeches paid for by anti-LGBTQ groups and was vetted for the Trump administration by The Federalist Society, which has argued against every major LGBTQ policy proposal including extending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include LGBTQ workers, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, hate crimes legislation, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and transgender accommodations. At least 11 people at the White House event announcing Barrett as the nominee later test positive for COVID-19, including Pres. Trump, his wife, former senior adviser, press secretary, the president of Notre Dame University and two members of the Judiciary Committee who say they will quarantine for ten days, then attend Barrett’s confirmation hearing.
  • September 18, 2020 – Within an hour of the announcement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announces “President Trump’s [Supreme Court] nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”
  • September 18, 2020 – Supreme Court Associate Justice and LGBTQ advocate Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at age 87. This opens up another seat on the Court for President Trump to try to fill, this one mere weeks before the Presidential election. This will allow for Trump to nominate his third candidate for the Court, and his current list (detailed below) is as anti-LGBTQ as ever.
  • September 18, 2020 – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos vows to withhold federal funds from Connecticut school districts that participate in athletic conference allowing transgender athletes to compete consistent with their gender identity. The move to withhold about $18 million intended to help schools desegregate could have national implications for both transgender athletes and students of color.
  • September 16, 2020 – Trump administration deploys legal strategy to avoid enforcing The U.S. Supreme Court Bostock ruling extending protections for LGBTQ workers, pushing rules that allow shelters and schools to insist access be based only on gender assigned at birth.
  • September 10, 2020 – Pres. Trump reveals additions to his list of potential Supreme Court appointees, which include Republican senators who have campaigned against marriage equality, a Trump-appointed federal judge with ties to an anti-LGBTQ organization identified as a hate group,  and Trump’s former Solicitor General who has filed briefs and argued before the Court to allow organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Axios reports the list was motivated by the Court’s ruling in June 2020 to expand LGBTQ protections in the workplace.
  • September 8, 2020 – The Trump administration files 36-page brief with Indiana Supreme Court to support a school’s alleged right to fire a teacher for being gay.
  • August 31, 2020 – White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely characterizes a State Department policy denying citizenship to children of same-sex couples born via surrogacy overseas. McEnany claimed the policy was only based on surrogacy when in fact only LGBTQ surrogacy families had been rejected. McEnany then read what she called the administration’s LGBTQ “achievements,” a list she has previously read and which has been debunked as anti-LGBTQ.
  • August 28, 2020 – The Trump State Department says it’s reviewing a federal judge’s ruling with the Department of Justice, ordering State to issue a U.S. passport for the daughter of a married gay couple from Georgia and ruling her a citizen since birth. The judge had ruled the State Department policy requiring a biological connection raised serious constitutional questions for same-sex couples.
  • August 24, 2020 – The Washington Post gives Trump advisor Richard Grenell four pinnochios for “The absurd claim that Trump is the ‘most pro-gay president in American history.’ The claims are deemed “whoppers” and every claim Grenell makes is discredited.
  • August 21, 2020 – The State Department is fighting a ruling to recognize citizenship of a young girl with gay parents. She was born in Canada via surrogate, and although her parents are legally married and US citizens, the State Dept. argued in federal court she was “born out of wedlock” and therefore not entitled to birthright citizenship. A judge deemed the controversial State policy unconstitutional in June.
  • August 20, 2020 – The lead U.S. foreign aid agency proposes a new policy on gender and women’s empowerment that eliminates any mention of transgender people or contraceptives, running counter to its own long-standing practices in deciding what programs to support. The draft policy released by the U.S. Agency for International Development doesn’t use the acronym LGBT or the words “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “transgender” or “identity” at all.  Gender experts and advocates said the new policy falls far short of providing the expertise the agency needs to address gender issues in development.
  • August 19, 2020 – The Department of Health and Human Services has been systematically discriminating against LGBTQ+ families in federally supported foster care programs, according to a new report from the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. The committee found that federally-funded agencies were granted a waiver to allow discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation, intentionally harming LGBTQ children, adults, and families.
  • August 10, 2020 – Trump campaign senior legal adviser and the president’s personal lawyer misgenders Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary. Jenna Ellis, who has no apparent medical degree, uses Twitter to mock other efforts to control the pandemic that’s killed 163,000 people on Pres. Trump’s watch. Ellis also condemns same-sex marriage and transgender identity, and has tweeted to promote conversion therapy.
  • July 29, 2020 – Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visit a private school in Raleigh, NC, lauding its reopening for in-person education despite the coronavirus epidemic. Thales Academy founder Bob Luddy is one of the biggest Republican donors in North Carolina. Luddy also founded Franklin Academy, a Wake Forest charter school that changed its school handbook after criticism of rules prohibiting LGBT discussion or affirmation. Students protested Pence’s visit with signs promoting LGBT rights and remote schooling. Within a week of Pence and DeVos’ visit, students had to quarantine after a student tested positive for COVID-19.
  • July 28, 2020 – Three years after President Trump tweeted out a ban on transgender people in the military “in any capacity,” the White House says he’s sticking with the policy. Each of the military service chiefs testified before Congress in 2018 they had no seen reports transgender service had disrupted unit cohesion during the period of open service and a Dept. of Defense poll found about two-thirds of active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines support serving alongside transgender personnel.
  • July 28, 2020 – The Trump administration plans to limit work permits for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from two years to one year. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that the administration could not carry out its plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because it did not provide legal justification for terminating it. Of the 640,000 “Dreamers,” 81,000 identify as LGBT and 39,000 have participated in DACA.
  • July 27, 2020 – After his administration supported the losing side at the Supreme Court on LGBTQ job protections, President Trump promises to choose from a new list of conservative jurists in his next court appointments. One potential candidate is Kyle Duncan, appointed by Pres. Trump to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Duncan’s anti-LGBT record includes arguing against trans student Gavin Grimm’s request to use the restroom consistent with his gender identity and arguing against national marriage equality and calling the Supreme Court ruling in favor of it an “abject failure” that “imperils civic peace.”
  • July 27, 2020 – President Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, says it’s “absurd” that her uncle believes he has support in the LGBTQ community, that he’s uncomfortable with gay people, and trans people, because “he’s uncomfortable with anyone that’s different… differently-abled, different color of skin, and different beliefs… He’s not [an] ally of the gay community, or really any community for that matter. Donald doesn’t have any concern or beliefs beyond his own self-interest.”
  • July 23, 2020 – Trump administration revokes HUD regulation designed to eliminate racial disparities in the suburbs. Housing advocates say Trump’s claims about the rule are inaccurate and racist. Government research shows LGBTQ people are less likely to own a home and fear discrimination when buying a home. Only 30% of Black LGBT Americans own a home compared to 64.3% of the overall population.
  • July 23, 2020 – Former leader of now-defunct conversion therapy ministry, Exodus International, reveals previous lobbying work he did with members of the Trump administration. Randy Thomas has since denounced conversion therapy and announced his engagement to Dan Scobey. “Given my experience,” Thomas said, “I believe Mike Pence is still supportive of ex-gay ministry and he supports the efforts to try to convert people from gay to straight.” Thomas also references working with Kellyanne Conway and other former Republican leaders, lobbying against marriage equality and hate crime legislation.
  • July 22, 2020 – Jenna Ellis, senior legal advisor to Donald Trump, retweets an article that promotes conversion therapy. Psychologists worldwide confirm LGBTQ people cannot change their gender identity or sexual orientation through conversion therapy. The American Psychiatric Association condemns such treatment and describes any attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation as unethical. Ellis has a long record of racist and homophobic rhetoric, including criticizing her own Republican party for any attempt to embrace LGBTQ rights after the Pulse massacre killed 49 people, many of whom were LGBTQ.
  • July 17, 2020 Defense Department confirms that new guidance to prohibit the display of Confederate flags on military institutions also includes bans on LGBTQ Pride flags. The Modern Military Association of America says the Pentagon is twisting the Confederate flag ban to achieve an anti-LGBTQ goal.
  • July 17, 2020 – New details emerge from proposed Housing and Urban Development rule limiting access for transgender people in single-sex homeless shelters. According to text from a leaked document obtained by Vox, the rule would allow federally-funded shelters to judge a person’s physical characteristics, such as height and facial hair, in determining access to the shelter. Factors to be considered include “the presence (but not the absence) of facial hair, the presence of an Adam’s apple, and other physical characteristics which, when considered together, are indicative of a person’s biological sex.”
  • July 17, 2020 – The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds lower court ruling blocking Trump administration from implementing new restrictions on people seeking asylum in the U.S. The proposal would eliminate gender-based asylum, despite dire consequences for women and girls seeking protection from extreme abuse and concerns that judges could reject similar claims based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • July 16, 2020 – U.S. Supreme Court allows policy banning voting rights to 1.4 million potential voters in Florida. FL governor and Trump supporter Ron DeSantis and republicans in the Florida legislature voted to require ex-felons pay court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, despite an amendment passed by Florida voters in 2018 restoring their right to vote. In May, a U.S. district judge ruled that the policy amounted to an unconstitutional voting tax. LGBTQ people are disproportionately incarcerated, especially young LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color, because they face housing, police and job discrimination.
  • July 16, 2020 – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headlines a report from a pseudo-advisory group he appointed, criticizing efforts for racial justice and prioritizing religious freedom and property rights above all other human rights concerns. The so-called Commission on Unalienable Rights report refers to abortion, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage as “divisive social and political controversies in the United States” rather than legally determined and settled rights. Pompeo delivered his speech before a large indoor crowd, despite urgent restrictions against such gatherings because of their documented increased risk of spreading the coronavirus.
  • July 15, 2020 – Former football coach Tommy Tuberville defeats Trump’s former U.S. Attorney General and former Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions in the state’s GOP primary runoff. Sessions’ record on LGBTQ issues is among the most negative for any politician in history, opposing all bills on LGBTQ equality throughout his decades in the Senate and continuing his assault on LGBTQ rights as Attorney General. Tuberville is a robust supporter of Trump, with a record of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
  • July 13, 2020 – Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnamy falsely claims Pres. Trump has “a great record” with the LGBTQ community. Trump has an abysmal record of attacks on LGBTQ people, including implementing a ban on transgender people in the military, rolling back access to healthcare and homeless shelters, and defending discrimination in multiple cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • July 13, 2020 Trump ally and harsh opponent of LGBTQ rights Andrzej Duda wins second term as president of Poland. Duda governed and campaigned against LGBTQ rights, calling them an “ideology” worse than Soviet-era communism. Duda’s nationalist-conservative party rules the Polish Parliament with an aim to symbolically and literally erase queer Poles from social and political life, making Poland the least friendly country in the European Union to LGBTQ people. Trump and Duda have met 11 times, including at the White House in June, the first foreign leader to visit since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S.
  • July 10, 2020 – Anti-LGBTQ+ groups tied to President Donald Trump received loans from the Small Business Administration as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Several anti-LGBTQ organizations receiving money are designated hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center including  Liberty CounselAmerican Family AssociationPacific Justice Institute. Companies tied to Trump’s adult children, son-in-law and millionaire friends also received money. At least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed funds went to the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, with millions going to dioceses that paid massive settlements or sought bankruptcy protection after covering up for pedophile priests. The Church used special exemptions granted by the Trump administration to circumvent limitations on aid imposed on every other organization.
  • July 1, 2020 – Housing and Urban Development announces new rule allowing single-sex homeless shelters to turn away transgender people, continuing a trend of dismantling protections for trans people across the federal government. HUD has acknowledged there is no evidence that transgender residents pose a risk to cisgender residents.
  • June 22, 2020 – In his first in-depth response to the landmark Supreme Court ruling protecting millions of Americans from being fired for being LGBT, Pres. Trump says he was “surprised” by the decision, written by his first nominated justice Neil Gorsuch. “We’ve had a lot of losses with a court that was supposed to be in our favor,” Trump said.
  • June 19, 2020 – Justice Department files “statement of interest” supporting Idaho’s new law barring transgender female athletes from competing consistent with their gender identity, a law that allows genital and genetic screenings. More than 500 college student-athletes and professional stars Megan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins and Reggie Bullock, join a petition to the NCAA asking to move championships out of Idaho in response to the discriminatory law.
  • June 14, 2020 – Dept. of Housing and Urban Development considers rolling back a rule requiring homeless shelters to accommodate transgender people. Single-sex shelters may consider biological sex, instead of how a transgender person identifies, in placement and accommodation decisions. HUD acknowledges it has no data to show transgender women pose any kind of risk.
  • June 12, 2020 – Protections rolled back for transgender Americans seeking healthcare under new rule announced by HHS, four years to the day of the Pulse nightclub attack. Two dozen Democratic attorneys general have sued the Trump administration to block its rule ending protection against discrimination in health care for transgender patients. “It is never acceptable to deny health care to Americans who need it, but it is especially egregious to do so in the middle of a pandemic,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the coalition.
  • June 8, 2020 – The Council for Global Equality calls out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for refusing to acknowledge LGBTQ Pride Month or the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia. Secretary Pompeo has promoted international policies used to deny LGBTI citizens equal rights in employment, health and education.
  • June 5, 2020 – New Trump appointee to U.S. foreign aid agency USAID has a history of online attacks against the “homo-empire” pushing “tyrannical LGBT agenda.” Merritt Corrigan formerly worked for the Republican National Committee and the Hungarian embassy in Washington. She has praised authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. USAID says it has a “zero-tolerance policy of any form or harassment based on gender, race, sexual orientation, [and] religion” and is working for a world in which LGBT people are “respected and able to live with dignity, free from discrimination, persecution and violence.”
  • June 4, 2020 – Support among evangelicals drops 15 points and falls 27 points among white Catholics. Pres. Trump’s handling of the George Floyd protests prompts rare rebuke from televangelist Pat Robertson. Failing to win evangelical support would imperil Trump’s re-election if he is unable to reverse it.
  • June 3, 2020 – U.S. Solicitor General and seventy-six members of Congress (signed names here) file briefs at the Supreme Court to support discrimination against LGBTQ couples looking to become foster families.
  • June 2, 2020 – A day after clearing protestors with tear gas, flashbomb grenades and police in riot gear, Pres. Trump signs executive order supporting “international religious freedom.” Stages another photo op in front of religious site. The Archbishop of Washington calls the visit “baffling and reprehensible.”
  • June 1, 2020 – Thousands of protestors demanding justice for George Floyd and against racism and police brutality cleared by a coordinated militarized crackdown in a park in front of White House. Pres. Trump uses law enforcement officers from multiple agencies to secure his walk to St. John’s Church to hold up a Bible, surrounded by five white advisers, for a campaign photo op. Religious leaders describe the actions as hypocritical and obscene.
  • May 19, 2020 – The Trump administration is using departments of State, Justice, Health and Human Services, Labor and Housing and Urban Development to push religious exemptions at the expense of LGBTQ rights, detailed by the ACLU, Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project.
  • May 15, 2020 – President Trump’s new press secretary Kayleigh McEnamy gives false answers about the administration’s hurtful policies against LGBTQ Americans.
  • May 15, 2020 – Newly-surfaced video and audio shows Trump campaign adviser and senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis grotesquely and falsely claims same-sex marriage will lead to legally and socially-accepted bestiality and pedophilia.
  • May 15, 2020 – U.S. Navy grants waiver to transgender naval officer, allowing her to remain in uniform. It’s the first waiver granted since the administration began enforcing its surprise ban against transgender service members. The government is expected to file its response to the suit filed by the naval officer in federal court.
  • May 5, 2020 – HHS ruling targets LGBTQ youth during a public health crisis. The Trump administration ends LGBTQ data collection on foster children and adoptive parents, silencing issues LGBTQ-identifying children may face in finding permanent homes. Christina Wilson Remlin, lead counsel for Children’s Rights, calls it “a huge mistake that will harm the children we serve.”
  • April 24, 2020 – The Trump administration moved to end a policy that protected LGBTQ patients from discrimination, potentially enabling hospitals and health workers to more easily discriminate against patients based on their gender or sexual orientation. This move alarmed health experts who warned that the regulatory rollback could harm vulnerable people during a pandemic.
  • April 8, 2020 – President Trump appointed Kayleigh McEnany, who has a history of using the press to attack LGBTQ people, as Press Secretary.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice filed a “statement of interest” in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, which stated that it has a “significant interest” in ensuring that Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is interpreted as excluding transgender female athletes and applying only to cisgender females.
  • March 25, 2020 – Preacher Ralph Drollinger, who leads a weekly Bible study for Cabinet Secretaries in the Trump Administration, wrote that he believes the coronavirus pandemic is a “consequential” or “sowing and reaping” form of wrath that directly stems from tolerance of “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”
  • January 21, 2020 – Vice President Mike Pence attended a church service whose pastor used false, derogatory statements to describe the LGBTQ community.  The event was live-streamed on the White House website.
  • January 16, 2020 – A directive by the Trump Administration across multiple government agencies was issued to strengthen access to federal dollars for religious-based organizations — even if the organization is anti-LGBTQ or has an anti-LGBTQ record.

2019

2018

2017

An elementary school gave students gendered facemasks. The kids weren’t having it.

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