Ignoring Trump's Anti-LGBT Past, Politico Helps Trump Rebrand Himself As Gay-Friendly

Politico fed into Donald Trump’s attempt to rebrand himself as an advocate for LGBT rights by describing his response to the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub as a “welcoming tone toward LGBT Americans” and saying that “in Trump, pro-gay rights Republicans see a new hope.” This comes two days after Politico reported that LGBT rights organizations don’t support Trump, and as other media outlets have highlighted, the threat Trump poses to LGBT rights and reiterated their view of Trump as an “enemy of the LGBT community.”

Politico Paints Trump As An Advocate For LGBT Rights

Politico Report Casts Trump’s Response To Orlando Massacre As Evidence That He Is An LGBT Rights Advocate. In a June 15 article, Politico’s Kyle Cheney hyped Trump’s response to the Orlando terror attack on a gay nightclub as evidence of a pro-LGBT-rights stance, saying the “sudden warmth from a Republican standard-bearer comes amid a push to moderate the party platform’s current conservative stances on social issues.” The article briefly mentions Trump’s flip-flops on LGBT issues, but its image of Trump as an LGBT advocate prevails, with the author labeling him as the “new hope” for gay Republicans and organizations that have been “pushing for a middle-ground approach” on same-sex marriage:

The sudden warmth from a Republican standard-bearer comes amid a push to moderate the party platform’s current conservative stances on social issues — an effort bankrolled by some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. That effort faces fierce opposition from social conservatives, who are looking to preserve the party’s position that regards same-sex marriage as an affront to social order and call for a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. But the more centrist elements in the party say Trump’s welcoming tone toward LGBT Americans and a sudden outpouring of national support for the gay community could move the debate in their direction.


John Fluharty, an openly gay adviser to the Delaware GOP, said de-emphasizing language opposing same-sex marriage could invite gay Americans to vote for Republicans in November.

“Trump has a real opportunity to help expand the party by pushing Republicans to accept the reality of what happened in Orlando,” Fluharty said. “He can reset the clock for Republicans on LGBTQ issues if he’s willing to bring down the hammer on reactionary elements in the Party, and drive home the point that Orlando was not just an attack on America, but it was an attack aimed directly at American LGBTQ citizens …Republicans have to admit this reality and it needs to be reflected in the platform with language that supports ending discrimination and expanding equality.”


Still, there are signs that proponents of same-sex marriage are going to be able to mobilize a degree of support at the convention. One member of the Platform Committee and supporter of same-sex marriage rights, who requested anonymity to describe ongoing efforts, said there will be a constituency within the committee to ease the party’s stance toward gay marriage.

The American Unity Fund has largely spearheaded the organization in support of same-sex marriage within the Republican Platform. The group, funded by billionaire GOP financiers like Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, Seth Klarman and Cliff Asness, has been pushing for a middle-ground approach on same-sex marriage – striking the anti-LGBT language in the party’s platform and replacing it with acknowledgement of the widely varying opinions on the issue.
“I think Donald Trump has his finger on the pulse of the Republican Party. I think he is reflecting the sentiment that people have about LGBT issues, and in reflecting that he’s showing that it’s time to move on,” said Tyler Deaton, a senior advisor to the effort. “He’s said that in many different ways. He says that in a style that only Trump can do it.” [Politico6/15/16]

Media: Trump Has Been An “Enemy” Toward The LGBT Community

Politico: LGBT Rights Organizations Don’t Support Trump. Two days before painting Trump as an LGBT advocate, Politico quoted several LGBT rights organizations and figures who all noted that Trump has not been a “friend” to the LGBT community and has instead been openly hostile to LGBT equality:

Trump is “no friend of the LGBTQ community,” Jay Brown, a spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign, said Monday. “Donald Trump has vowed to roll back marriage equality, pass Kim Davis-style discrimination and allow governors from coast to coast to pass laws like North Carolina’s HB2,” he said.

Brown added that the perpetrator of the shooting at Pulse Nightclub was an “an American citizen conditioned to hate and to believe that LGBTQ people deserved to be massacred.”

Trump, though he was critical of North Carolina's so-called bathroom law, has often taken positions at odds with those of LGBT groups. Following last summer’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Trump attacked Chief Justice John Roberts for his position on Obergefell v. Hodges. “Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!” he tweeted. [Politico, 6/13/16]

Columnist Dan Savage: “Donald Trump Is The Enemy Of The LGBT Community Just As He Is The Enemy Of The Muslim Community.” On the June 14 edition of MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, nationally syndicated sex advice columnist and LGBT activist Dan Savage criticized Trump for attempting to pit the LGBT community against Muslims, commenting that “LGBT people come from all races, all faiths, all ethnic backgrounds, all classes” and noting that Trump “has pledged to undo marriage equality”:

CHRIS HAYES (HOST): You know, Trump unveiled this new line of attack in the speech the other day, which is basically almost an importation of a certain kind of European right-wing politics. We saw it with Pim Fortuyn, who was a Dutch politician. Basically saying, I am an ally of LGBT people because I will be the most anti-Muslim candidate, essentially. What's your reaction to watching him try to essentially pit these two constituencies against each other?

DAN SAVAGE: We're not going to fall for it. And you can't draw a clean line between the LGBT community and the Muslim community because there are LGBT Muslims in the United States and all over the world. Muslims are a part of the LGBT community, not distinct from it. LGBT people come from all races, all faiths, all ethnic backgrounds, all classes. And Donald Trump attempting to pit the queer community against the Muslim community is not going to fly. We don't believe him. Donald Trump has pledged to undo marriage equality. Donald Trump is the enemy of the LGBT community just as he is the enemy of the Muslim community. And beating up on what is, in the United States, a vulnerable minority group isn't a way that you impress other members of other vulnerable minority groups to win their support. [MSNBC, All in with Chris Hayes, 6/14/16]

CNN: “Not All Gay Republicans Are Convinced” That Trump Is Pro-LGBT. In a June 15 article, CNN noted, “The Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's oldest and largest group of gay Republicans, has yet to endorse [Trump]” at least in part because he has not assured the group that he would not “‘roll back advances we’ve made in LGBT equality, specifically on the marriage equality issue,’” as group president Gregory T. Angelo explained:

Not all gay Republicans in leadership positions are as convinced. The Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's oldest and largest group of gay Republicans, has yet to endorse the presumptive nominee.

“There are reservations some members of our national board of directors have,” said Log Cabin Republican President Gregory T. Angelo. “I would want assurances that Mr. Trump wouldn't work to roll back advances we've made in LGBT equality, specifically on the marriage equality issue.” [CNN, 6/15/16]

Huff. Post: “LGBT People Aren’t Exempt from Donald Trump’s Blatant Bigotry.” In a February 25 article, The Huffington Post debunked the myth that Trump is supportive of LGBT rights, citing his strategy to shift his position to cater to the audience to which he is speaking and highlighting his history of anti-LGBT attacks.

There’s been a theme in some of the media, and certainly among some gay Republicans — as I focused on a few weeks ago — that implies Donald Trump isn’t so bad on equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, or is at least better than most of the other GOP candidates. It’s absolutely false — he’s as extreme as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and will do nothing for LGBT rights — and it’s time to disabuse the media and everyone else of this notion once and for all.


Last week in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Trump called the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling “shocking” and told evangelicals to “trust me” on the issue, telegraphing that he would get the marriage equality ruling overturned.

On Fox News Sunday, Trump in fact said he’d consider appointing judges who would overturn the Obergefell ruling, taking up a position that Marco Rubio had announced weeks earlier.

Trump came out in support of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which anti-gay Republicans introduced in Congress last year. It would allow government entities, non-profit organizations that receive government funds and businesses contracted with the federal government to discriminate against gays. Basically, it would allow for the kind of exemption on a whole variety of issues that the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was demanding.


As we’ve seen, Trump is a master of manipulation (of media and of constituencies) who learned that on the gay issue he could give mixed signals, implying “tolerance” of LGBT rights while on the campaign trail but then speaking to anti-gay bigots within their forums and telling them exactly what they want to hear. Unlike on immigration, where he sees the swirling energy of the extreme right and its demand for a very loud voice, he knows evangelicals, who’ve suffered defeats, will accept someone who more quietly makes promises — as long as he’s a winner. And they’re intent on making him a winner and holding him to those promises. [The Huffington Post, 2/25/16]

In Addition To Opposing Marriage Equality, Trump Has Touted Support Of Anti-LGBT Legislation. Trump has publicly supported the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), “religious freedom” legislation that would codify a broad right to federal anti-LGBT discrimination and nullify current federal protections for LGBT people. In an interview, Trump said that if Congress acted on the bill, he would “do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment.” [Washington Blade, 12/23/15; Media Matters, 7/28/15]