Monday, May 08, 2017

LGBT Americans Still Have Reason to Fear Trump and the GOP

Trump and leading anti-gay Christofascists

While Donald Trump punted on attacking LGBT rights in his recently released "religious freedom" executive order, LGBT Americans should not let down their guard or assume that we are out of the woods.  Anti-LGBT laws continue to be signed by Republican governors in GOP controlled states. Here in Virginia, a Democrat governor has protected LGBT Virginians from the worst extremes of the Republican dominated Virginia General Assembly, but we have elections in November when things could change dramatically for the worse if the Republicans win the governor's mansion.  And at the national level, the Christofascists and their political whores in Congress continue to demand special rights to discriminate against LGBT citizens.  A column in Huffington Post looks at the continuing threats.  Here are excerpts:
Some social conservatives are expressing anger about Donald Trump’s “religious liberty” executive order because, unlike what was feared by LGBT activists because of an earlier leaked draft, there’s nothing in the order giving exemptions to business owners or government workers who are opposed to marriage equality or LGBTQ rights in general.
Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation slammed the order as “woefully inadequate.” David French at National Review called it “worse than useless.” Brian Brown of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage said it “falls far short of what is needed to protect people of faith from governmental persecution.”  And Bryan Fischer, the bombastic, fire-breathing radio host for the American Family Association, is furious that the order doesn’t allow bakers, florists and adoption agencies to discriminate, and he’s blaming Ivanka Trump for it.
This has led some LGBTQ people, namely gay Republicans, to continue to believe Donald Trump ― in spite of the promises he made to anti-LGBTQ supporters ―  is a different kind of Republican.
Don’t be fooled.
There’s a long history of Republican presidents stringing along the hungry base of the Christian right and not giving them a big prize before they are needed again. The classic example is George W. Bush, who equally disappointed some anti-LGBTQ activists in his first few years, but then bowed to their demands and promoted a federal marriage amendment just before the 2004 election to energize them to get out and vote in what was expected to be a close election after dissatisfaction with the Iraq War and Bush’s dismal approval numbers.
As I pointed out last week, Trump needs the Christian right for re-election and to keep Congress controlled by the GOP more than even Bush did. . . . . And Trump’s approval numbers are lower than Bush’s were at any point in his first term, even at his low in the election year of 2004 (48% in the Gallup Poll).
Mike Pence, who represents the religious right wing in the White House, is perhaps the shrewdest player among the various players. A former House member and former governor of Indiana, he is the only one close to Trump who has any legislative and executive political experience. Certainly as governor, Pence learned the hard way that pushing too fast on “religious liberty” issues can backfire.
Pence appears to be playing the long game, consolidating his power base. As head of the transition team, he’s brought in quite a few anti-LGBTQ figures and placed them in the cabinet and throughout the government, even if an occasional one ― like the recent Army Secretary nominee, Tom Green, who withdrew his nomination ― gets too above the radar and is thwarted.
Right now, just almost four months into the Trump regime, the social conservative establishment is playing nice, retaining its access. But the grumblings from the base and the grass roots were unmistakable last week.
It’s unlikely Trump will be able to get the religious right grass roots energized for his re-election ― something he needs desperately ― without doing something major to inhibit LGBTQ rights. We’ve of course already seen the administration rescind guidance to schools regarding transgender students, effectively block the executive order President Obama signed banning discrimination against LGBTQ people among federal contractors, install bigots in important posts and much more. 
But to the religious right, as we saw in the reactions last week to the executive order, none that is satisfactory. With Pence, Trump has someone in the driver’s seat who knows what they want, and who will know when to pull the trigger on something that will definitely satisfy them. Again, stay alert and be prepared.  

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