Three years into his disastrous reign, it takes some pretty serious mental and moral gymnastics to ignore indisputable facts and argue for this president’s fitness for office.
But the spineless GOP majority in the Senate is doing just that this week, at Trump’s blatantly rigged impeachment trial, and it is hard to take your eyes off their miserable mugs or close your ears to their preposterous words.
But what say we do just that.
Let’s turn our attention from the hypocrites and apparent monarchists in the Capitol, to the peculiar and embarrassing subset of gay Americans who proudly support Trump’s reelection. This, despite the fact that Trump and the religious zealots his White House serves have rolled back rights for LGBT people, imperiled their health, and even endangered their lives.
How much hard-won ground has been lost? A report to be released Thursday by The Fenway Institute lays it all out, in distressingly vivid detail.
Among the lowlights:
The administration has rolled back rules protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, education, and housing, and proposed rules allowing health care providers to refuse to treat LGBT patients on moral or religious grounds.
And then there are the judicial nominations, a retrograde fanatic’s dream. According to the Fenway Institute report, almost a third of 2019 nominees to federal courts have expressed anti-LGBT sentiments, some arguing that gays and lesbians should be excluded from nondiscrimination protections. One nominee, Lawrence Van Dyke, was associated with a group that has advocated for the sterilization of transgender people, and for the criminalization of homosexuality here and abroad. Nice.
Trump’s defenders point to his plan, announced in his 2019 State of the Union speech, to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. But how much does that mean, when the administration is making it harder for LGBT folks to access health care? When they’ve acted to redouble the stigma on LGBT folks who might seek treatment?
Sure, Trump’s ambassador to Germany announced a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in 70 countries, but the administration has been very selective about it, the Fenway report points out, objecting to Chechnya’s treatment of gays and lesbians, but remaining silent on similar brutality in, say, Saudi Arabia. And last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo established a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” that seems designed to shrink the definition of human rights in US foreign policy to exclude gays and lesbians.
The administration’s policies reflect the beliefs and priorities of small-minded religious conservatives — including Vice President Mike Pence — who hold massive sway in the White House: In addition to regularly laying hands on the unrepentant sinner in the oval office, they also lay them on the levers of power at every level.
Just this past Sunday, Pence promised members of a church in Memphis that he would “stand strong” for their values. Moments later, the bishop, in a sermon streamed by the White House, called homosexuality “unnatural” and “demonic.”
Who on earth could see all of this intolerance and inhumanity piling up and conclude the Trump administration is friendly to LGBT Americans?
Why, the Log Cabin Republicans, that’s who — or at least, what’s left of them after several leaders resigned in protest after the group endorsed Trump last summer. The gay GOP group, which did not endorse Trump in 2016, explained its decision to do so in the 2020 election via an op-ed in the Washington Post. While acknowledging there is still work to be done, Log Cabin leaders touted Trump’s new HIV prevention policy, and the efforts to pressure foreign governments to be more tolerant — despite the fact that the administration’s policies make a mockery of both initiatives.
Basically, it boiled down to their view that the GOP is no longer openly hateful towards gays and lesbians. They credited Trump with “moving past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s.”
Say what, now?
“Either they are not paying attention, are woefully misinformed, or are misleading,” said Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute, and a coauthor of the report.
Like others who enable Trump, the Log Cabin Republicans appear to have learned to hear only what they want to hear, and to see no evil. Even when it is staring them in the face.Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @GlobeAbraham.