At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is impossible in my view to adequately sound the alarm of the dangers posed to LGBT Americans by the incoming Trump/Pence regime. Many policies in favor of LGBT rights championed by the Obama administration will be rolled back and I am very fearful of what Trump's militantly anti-gay appointees may put forward. Many - including my husband - say that too many people are in favor of LGBT equality for some of these frightening things to happen, but the reality is that with GOP control of both houses of Congress, there will be little to stop the passage of anti-LGBT legislation, the falsely named First Amendment Defense Act being only the beginning of the likely coming nightmare. To these naysayers, I would also point out that many Germans believed that Hitler and the Nazis would take their anti-Semitism to the lengths that they did. Relying on the good will of others for one's rights is both foolish and dangerous. A column in Huffington Post looks at the danger Trump poses to LGBT Americans. Here are highlights:
Donald Trump has settled on billionaire Besty DeVos as his choice for Secretary of Education, a woman with her own, long anti-LGBTQ record. I’ll get to her further down, but first it’s important, because it reflects on Trump’s first instincts, to focus on the man who appears to have been Trump’s initial choice for the job, and who says he passed on it: Loyal supporter and campaigner, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. ― a man whose late father and mentor said the attacks of 9/11 were God’s wrath against the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality.At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d like to once again point to New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman, . . . . set a false narrative for much of the media during the election campaign, headlined, “Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P.” . . . . Though Trump consistently opposed marriage equality (since 2000) and suggestedto evangelical leaders (and later confirmed) that he’d sign the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act, . . . .So, here we are now, during the transition of Trump’s presidency ― which includes anti-LGBTQ crusader Mike Pence as transition team chair and as a likely most powerful vice president ever ― and religious zealot and enemy of LGBTQ rights Jerry Falwell Jr. says that he was offered, and turned down, the job of Secretary of Education by Trump.
Now, I think I can safely say that neither Mitt Romney, nor John McCain, nor even George W. Bush, would have considered Jerry Falwell Jr. or any other hard-core religious leader . . . . to establish policy for, and administer federal assistance to, America’s public education system. I think I can also safely say that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have made his ardent supporter, Jerry Falwell, Sr., founder of the Moral Majority as well as of Liberty University, head of the Education Department either.
But here is Trump, ready to hand the job to a religious zealot whose sole goal, certainly by his actions and statements, would likely be to infuse evangelical Christian doctrine into public schools while silencing and instilling fear in students of minority faiths entirely, such as Muslims.
Over the past eight years the Obama Education Department, through its Office of Civil Rights, has embraced LGBTQ rights. In 2010 it launched a campaign to fight anti-gay and anti-trans bullying in public schools. The Education Department collaborated with five other agencies to form stopbullying.gov, which includes resources for LGBTQ youth.
During those same years, according to Nico Lang in The Advocate, Falwell’s Liberty University hosted a two-day conference, “Understanding Same-sex Attractions and Their Consequences,” which included panelists from various anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” organizations. Kevin Roose, who went undercover for a semester at Liberty University in 2007, wrote in New York magazine that condemnation of homosexuality and praise for conversion therapy were also promoted on campus and taught in the classroom there . . . .
After Falwell passed on it, Trump offered the job to Amway billionaire Betsy DeVos, a Trump campaign backer whose family’s foundation is one of the largest contributors to the anti-equality National Organization for Marriage, giving $500,000 to the group. DeVos herself and her husband, fixtures of Michigan’s GOP, donated $200,000 to Michigan’s successful ballot initiative to ban marriage equality.
DeVos and her husband have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the virulently anti-LGBTQ Focus on the Family ― labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center ― which also promotes “conversion therapy.”
National LGBT groups have been demanding answers from the Trump transition team and from DeVos herself about her agenda. But Eliza Byard, president of GLSEN, which advocates for LGBTQ students, notes that even if the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights initiatives are kept intact, DeVos’ promotion of vouchers and tuition tax credits also threatens students’ civil rights, including LGBTQ students . . .
No matter Trump’s actual beliefs on LGBTQ rights, it’s clearly not something he’s taking into account while offering cabinet posts to his most loyal supporters (and don’t forget, anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence is heading up the transition team.)
That’s true whether they be billionaires who supported anti-LGBTQ efforts but backed Trump’s campaign, or religious extremists like Falwell, who helped turn out white evangelical voters for Trump and who would be hellbent on ending the separation of church and state, in public education and beyond.
Be very, very afraid.