Commentary

A second Trump administration would test how strong support is for LGBTQ+ rights

Former President Donald Trump makes an appearance at a town hall meeting hosted by the conservative group Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix on June 6, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump makes an appearance at a town hall meeting hosted by the conservative group Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix on June 6, 2024. Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Donald Trump’s core followers live in an alternate universe. For proof, look no further than a new poll about the difference between Trump supporters and Biden supporters. According to the poll, Trump supporters have abysmal attitudes toward trans rights and marriage equality, a finding with potentially devastating implications in a second Trump term.

The Pew Research Center interviewed more than 8,700 adults, including more than 7,100 registered voters for their views on a wide range of social issues. While the findings themselves aren’t entirely a surprise, the depth of the Trump supporters’ discomfort with how society has changed is striking, especially when compared with how Biden voters feel.

Not surprisingly, on racial issues, Trump voters simply don’t believe that slavery has had a lasting impact on Black Americans. When asked if slavery has affected the position of Black people in society, only 27% agreed, compared to 80% of Biden voters. Only 22% of Trump supporters thought that white people benefited from advantages in society that Black people don’t have.

Similarly, on gender issues, Trump voters are much more likely to say that the obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead are gone: 73% vs. only 26% for Biden voters. Even more eye-opening is the fact that 44% of male Trump voters think that women’s progress has come at the expense of men.

But it is on LGBTQ+ issues that the divide is even more frightening. Only 9% of Trump voters believe that your gender can be different than what you were assigned at birth. (A majority – but not an overwhelming majority – of Biden voters do believe that: just 59%.) Needless to say, Trump voters dislike gender-neutral pronouns as well.

When it comes to being out, Trump supporters hate it. More than half said that more people feeling comfortable about being gay, lesbian, or bisexual was a bad thing. Only a scant 11% thought it was a good thing.

The question that Pew asked about marriage equality is especially revealing: has marriage equality been good for society? Fully half of Trump supporters said it was bad—the older the supporter, the more likely that was the response.

What is troubling – especially for a future Trump administration – is that Biden supporters aren’t exactly celebratory themselves. While 57% say marriage equality has been good, 31% said it’s neither good nor bad. (The rest said it was bad.) Similarly, on the question of it being easier to come out, only 51% said it was good, while 35% said it was neither good nor bad.

A second Trump administration would be staffed with people who will be dedicated to clawing back LGBTQ+ rights. Should the Republicans win control of Congress, they will have some strong allies. House Speaker Mike Johnson literally built his career at the nation’s premier anti-LGBTQ legal group.

Meanwhile, Project 2025, the blueprint that the right-wing Heritage Foundation has for the second Trump term, has a detailed list of anti-LGBTQ+ policies it wants to implement, including a ban on trans military personnel and a rollback of the government’s recognition of same-sex marriages.

The administration will also have allies in the courts. Certainly, Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have made it clear that they would love to overturn the Obergefell decision, which legalized marriage equality in all 50 states.

The question is, based on the Pew poll, would Trump and his lackeys face sufficient pushback to stop them? Yes, a majority of Biden voters support LGBTQ+ rights, but not an overwhelming number. In fact, when you take all voters into account on both coming out and marriage equality questions, it’s a wash: about a third support it, a third hate it, and a third don’t have strong feelings either way.

That’s not a hopeful sign. Donald Trump won’t care what Biden supporters think. He’ll only cater to his supporters. If people are expecting an uprising of opposition to his attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, they might be disappointed. There will be so many rights under assault that others are likely to get more attention.

A second Trump administration would be a test of just how strong support for LGBTQ+ rights is in the U.S. The fear is that for many people it’s not going to be a high priority. That would give Trump leeway to do whatever he wants – and given his authoritarian impulses, he will in any event.

The best possible outcome is that a second Trump administration never comes to pass.

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