“Leave it the way it is.” Those were the words of GOP front-runner Donald Trump at the end of April when he was asked whether transgender Americans should use the restroom of their choice.
While people may view Trump’s stance as shocking, I don’t. As a gay political commentator, I am trained to examine the record, not the rhetoric, emanating from the campaign trail. If you possessed a pair of ears and a memory, you knew that Trump’s primary motivation for seeking residency to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue did not involve LGBT issues.
After Obergefell v. Hodges, Trump proclaimed it was the law of the land and didn’t rush to defend Kentucky clerk Kim Davis while lawyers from the radical right, my former comrades-in-arms, were marketing Davis for donor dollars.
Trump has stated that he would appoint judges that would overturn marriage equality and that has caused the LGBT community to respond as if Fire Island was foreclosed. Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court justices added some fuel to the fire.
One potential nominee, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, has tweeted, sarcastically, about a constitutional right to marry bacon. Diane Sykes, a federal appellate judge with the Seventh Circuit, famously ruled that a student group that discriminates against gays could not be penalized by school officials.
But let’s pause for a second. Willett, though colorful, made his tweet prior to Obergefell being decided. Sykes’ actually got her ruling right (it is not the place of government to penalize the politics of student expression that it disagrees with). Even if someone like Willett was a nominee, he would still have to receive Senate confirmation and also sway his potential colleagues on the Court – a tall order.
Then there is someone like William H. Pryor. An Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal judge, Pryor has the earmarking of a judicial conservative crusader. The funny thing about thing about such crusaders is, unlike their liberal counterparts, they follow the law in lieu of making it.
It is why in 2011, Pryor ruled, “We conclude that a government agent violates the Equal Protection Clause’s prohibition of sex-based discrimination when he or she fires a transgender or transsexual employee because of his or her gender non-conformity.” A big win for the LGBT community.
The fact is simple – Trump’s Supreme picks, when viewed in totality, are not de facto harmful to LGBT interests (just like his general election platform). And even if they were, which they are not, it is not a big deal.
Since 1973 Republican candidates have promised to appoint judges to overturn Roe v. Wade and almost a half a century later the decision still stands. Presently, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders regularly toss red meat about Citizens United. But the reality is once the Supreme Court rules you have better odds at winning the Powerball than seeing a reversal.
So where does that leave Trump? The tone of his campaign points to a friendly indifference towards the politics of sexuality. He appears to be focused on chicken-in-every-pot issues, not bedtime partners. His “Today” interview proves as much.
It is why I created LGBTrump, a Facebook community for LGBT folks supportive of Trump. The fact is that since Trump became the presumptive nominee, attention to this page has exploded. Likes jumped from 142 to over a 1,100 within days and it is still growing, rapidly. But, realistically, our slice of the LGBT community is still in the minority and viewed we are viewed as heretics.
To a LGBT community that routinely serves as the political prostitutes of a Democrat pimp, the inability to unchain its collective mind from identity politics is borderline pathological. Make no mistake; the vast majority of the LGBT community would rather forsake Streisand, Gaga, and Ellen than even admit Trump might not be that bad.
Why? Because too many of in the LGBT community only see identity, not issues.
When I wrote my book “Odd Man Out,” a book that argues the LGBT community should reject identity politics and find common ground with political opponents, I advocated for the very issues that make Trump appealing – fair trade, strong defense, border security, and non-intervention. This set of issues helps the LGBT community. Shortly thereafter, and before Trump entered the race, I predicted Trump would dominate because of these issues.
I made the case to the LGBT community that it is time to re-adjust the political compass and focus on pressing issues of tomorrow and not the marriage issues of yesterday. I stressed that the LGBT political voice must go beyond the politics of sexuality.
The reaction? When the Advocate did a review of my book, the majority of the LGBT community became unhinged. One reader compared me to Ernst Röhm — Adolf Hitler’s (far-left, homosexual) street-thug-in-chief — another reader proclaimed I am a “vile, vapid, venal man,” and one wanted me back in the closet. Very few tackled the merits of my argument.
There is no room at the inn for gay people who focus on routine political issues outside the politics of identity. And the reality is a large portion of the LGBT community refuses to abandon the political pacifier of identity politics that is continually pushed in their face by the Democrat Party.
Thus, a LGBT community that routinely boo-hoos about marginal examples of supposed intolerance has no qualms bludgeoning even a few gay defectors. The LGBT community enforces a stricter purity pledge than Jim Jones, although without the poisoned Kool-Aid.
When I penned an Op/Ed in USA Today arguing that it was a mistake for the LGBT lobby to wed the issue of gay rights and trans rights, critics quickly launched an inquisition. Ironically, the Advocate was considering this piece and, after reading the USA TODAY article, dropped it because the Advocate editor thought that I rejected the gender identity of transgender men. The laws of science are suspended at the Advocate.
Besides being a head-scratcher, the Advocate provided my point – the extreme LGBT Left acts just like the extreme Religious Right. They decide who is either LGBT (or Christian enough) to be in the club. Buck the orthodoxy and face excommunication.
It was no surprise, therefore, that, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin chimed in to proclaim my views on the trans debate as “extreme” and “dangerous”. He threw in a reference to Matthew Sheppard for good measure.
But I cannot fault Griffin because I know the game he is playing. In the mid-2000s, I was a member of the Alliance Defending Freedom’s inaugural Blackstone Fellowship and a staff attorney for the American Family Association. I know that special interest politics is a ravenous beast that needs money to survive. It gets this money by manipulating the trusting allegiance of the faithful and creating faux issues.
Look where we are today. With marriage equality the law of the land, neither the Religious Right nor the Gay Left has declared a truce. A truce means it would be time to close up the show and venture out into the real world. To protect their respective cash cows, we are now battling over cupcakes and restrooms; all the while the money flows in.
Lawyers that I have worked with on the Right know that passing unconstitutional LGBT laws is the safest form of job security, something also known to the Left. Such laws will have to be defended/challenged in courts. It guarantees years of fundraising efforts and further exploits a broken system.
This, of course, brings us back to Trump.
Trump has not only changed presidential politics; he has changed the political landscape. His campaign is causing Americans to recognize the crisis facing the nation is far greater than the identity politics that distracts the nation for the benefit of special interests on the Right and Left.
In his statement endorsing Trump, Jerry Falwell, Jr. described how his father voted. “When [Jerry Falwell] walked into the voting booth, he wasn’t electing a Sunday school teacher or a pastor or even a president who shared his theological beliefs; he was electing the president of the United States.”
Translation – Trump might not be, in the words of Glenn Beck, “the anointed one,” but he is the best candidate to, for lack of a better phrase, make America great again.
Falwell was endorsing Trump not because of his knowledge of Scripture, but because Trump wants to fix the pressing issues – economy, security, trade – facing the nation. If Falwell can think this way, why not the LGBT community?
Trump is poised to reboot the economy, halt the foreign fleecing of our economy, secure the border, and put an end to unnecessary wars. How is this bad for LGBT Americans? Or the LGBT community? Is it somehow wrong for gays to try for a pay raise?
The retort from the LGBT lobby is that Trump is a Republican and Republicans are bad. Some argue his comments about Mexico importing rapists were racist, but how is that different from Hillary Clinton calling black men super predators? Both statements were factually accurate when uttered.
Some say he is anti-woman, but his company has promoted women while Hillary’s campaign and the Clinton Foundation have faced criticisms of underpaying woman. As for gay rights, if the rose-colored glasses are removed than Hillary’s record is not a pocket full of rainbows.
In 2000, Hillary boasted that marriage is “between a man and a woman.” In 2008, Hillary followed the polling data and peddled civil unions over marriage equality. Why? Her husband has the best explanation.
Taylor Branch, a longtime friend of Bill Clinton, recorded a number of late-night conversations with the former president. During a conversation on gay rights, Bill told Branch how Hillary is “a little put off by some of this stuff” and that Hillary found gay rights “harder to swallow” than he did.
Trump may have flaws, but so does Clinton. Yet the reaction from the LGBT lobby is viscerally against Trump. The reason? It is in the financial interests of the LGBT lobby to maintain the presence of a conservative boogeyman when one no longer exists.
The LGBT community needs to man-up and stop giving Hillary a pass it would never give a Republican. It needs to objectively look at the issues and, if Trump is better than Clinton, then walk away from the political script – just like I did.
If Trump has the guts to say the things that need to be said, some of which are supportive to the LGBT community, can the LGBT community at least have the guts to consider his candidacy?