Donald Trump’s acceptance speech was full of the jingoistic bombast and wrong-headed policies on trade and immigration that prevent me from giving him my vote (I’m for the Johnson-Weld Libertarian party ticket). And the GOP platform, as previously discussed, was given over to hardcore social conservatives and the religious right, and consequently is awful on LGBT issues.
But I contend wholeheartedly that despite the platform committee’s antics on the sidelines, the Republican Convention represented a dramatic change from the past—and for the better—on LGBT issues, and failing to recognize that is simply partisan myopia. A quick recap (along with the consensus liberal and LGBT media assessment):
Ted Cruz: “Whether you are gay or straight, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience.”
(media assessment: code for discrimination)
Newt Gingrich: “If our enemies had their way, gays, lesbians and transgender citizens would be put to death as they are today in the Islamic State and Iran.”
(media assessment: absurd fear-mongering)
Peter Thiel: “Every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican, but most of all I am proud to be an American.”
(media assessment: sellout)
Donald Trump: “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. No good. And we’re going to stop it. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” [applause] “I must say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering. Thank you.”
(media assessment: pandering)
The liberal media and LGBT left-progressive establishment were, of course, dismissive—at best, window-dressing and all that. But Trump’s comments and Thiel’s remarks were a huge departure for the GOP.
The last openly gay Republican convention speaker, then-Rep Jim Kolbe of Arizona in 2000, didn’t mention being gay. Nevertheless, the Texas delegation staged a protest while he spoke, removing their hats, bowing their heads and publicly praying. Nothing like that happened this time, nor is it likely to ever happen again.
More. Donald Trump was never likely to pay much attention to a committee-drafted platform he didn’t control, and letting the social conservatives run riot with it was a sop to the evangelical-right delegates, many of whom (but not all) were initially pledged to Ted Cruz. But Cruz’s convention speech nonendorsement of Trump has made the bad blood between the two men even worse. On reflection, Trump’s outreach to “LGBTQ” voters was like his own nonendorsement of the platform planks opposing LGBT social acceptance and legal equality that the Cruzites had pushed through.
It quite likely, I believe, that if Trump were elected he would sign The Equality Act—the proposed federal law to include LGBT antidiscrimination provisions in the Civil Rights Act—should it reach his desk. I’m no fan of the measure on libertarian grounds, but it’s the top item on the political agenda of progressive LGBT activist groups. However, given their virulence toward Trump, I suspect if he wins they will act to keep that from happening.
Furthermore. Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr., a “Trumpian nonbeliever,” writes that Trump’s acceptance speech:
…was a masterful if lengthy exposition of his nationalist-Peronist viewpoint: America is a nation of lovely people of every creed, ethnicity and sexual orientation best by murderous illegal aliens, Islamic terrorists and the predatory trade practices of other countries.
I think that’s right (which is why I support Johnson-Weld). But it’s also right that the rejection of political gay-bashing by Trump throughout his campaign, and no mention at all of abortion in his convention speech, was a not-so-subtle repudiation of the platform committee’s hard-edged political-social conservatism. If Trump were elected, the platform in 2020, under his control, would likely be very different—especially since, as the Pew Research Center reports, 61% of young Republicans favor same-sex marriage.
Scott Shackford writes at reason.com, GOP’s Overall Message to LGBTs: We Don’t Actually Want You Dead, Okay? While I’m generally a fan of Shackford’s often-astute analysis, I think Trump went beyond that in calling the LGBTQ victims in Orlando “wonderful Americans” and praising the convention audience for applauding that line. True, the GOP has set a low bar when it comes to LGBT equality, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss signs that it’s being raised.