Media should beware that even though the Republican National Convention is featuring speeches from prominent LGBT figures Peter Thiel and Caitlyn Jenner, that does not mean the party or its nominees for president and vice president support LGBT rights. In fact, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, and the GOP platform support anti-LGBT laws and have turned to anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders for advice on related issues. Media have a history of whitewashing Trump’s record on LGBT issues and casting him as an advocate for the community despite his documented opposition to LGBT equality.
Prominent LGBT Figures Thiel And Jenner Among Speakers At Party’s Convention
Wash. Post: Peter Thiel “Will Be The First Openly Gay Speaker At The GOP Convention Since 2000.” The Washington Post reported that PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel “will be the first openly gay speaker at a GOP convention since 2000” and that the supporter of Republican presidential nomineee Donald Trump “will announce that he is proud to be gay” in his July 21 remarks. The Post noted that while Thiel “supports gay marriage, … he believes fighting over cultural issues such as ‘bathroom bills’ is a distraction from more important matters.” From the July 20 Washington Post article:
When PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel takes the stage at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night, he will make history: For the first time, a speaker at a Republican national convention will announce that he is proud to be gay, according to a person familiar with his remarks.
Thiel, who supports gay marriage, plans to say that although he does not agree with all the policies in the official GOP platform, he believes fighting over cultural issues such as “bathroom bills” is a distraction from more important matters.
The billionaire libertarian will be the first openly gay speaker at a GOP convention since 2000, when then-Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona addressed the gathering in Philadelphia, where George W. Bush was nominated for the first time. Kolbe steered clear of talking about his sexuality, however, giving brief remarks about trade. Even so, some of the delegates from Bush’s home state of Texas stood up and bowed their heads in prayer while he spoke. [The Washington Post, 7/20/16]
USA Today: Caitlyn Jenner Spoke About Being A “Real Republican” At The Convention. Former Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner spoke at a brunch hosted by the American Unity Foundation (AUF) at the Republican convention on July 20, where she answered in the affirmative questions about whether she is a “‘real Republican,’” USA Today reported. The paper added that “Jenner showed that her Republican views don't interfere with her social activism” as a member of the transgender community. From the July 20 USA Today article:
“It was easy to come out as trans. It was hard to come out as Republican,” said Caitlyn Jenner at a Republican National Convention [event] outside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Wednesday morning.
Jenner spoke with American Unity Fund President Margaret Hoover on stage at the so-called Big Tent Brunch, and answered questions about whether she's a “real Republican.”
The short answer: yes. The longer story: Though President Obama's administration has made strides for the trans community, Jenner's political views have much to do with the fact that her father served in the military, “and if my dad knew what was going on in this country when he fought so hard, I think he'd be very disappointed.” She continued: “Because of that, I feel like our best hope to get back to a constitutional government... is a Republican Party... I'm not giving up on this country. I'm not giving up on this constitution. I want jobs for everybody.”
But Jenner showed that her Republican views don't interfere with her social activism. She spoke about the absurdity of North Carolina's bathroom laws ( “I haven't used a men's room in a year and a half. I follow the rules. I never flush a feminine product down the toilet.” ), about how she came out to her kids ( “God said, 'Let's give this one the soul of a female and see how he does.'” ) and explained that she wants more conservatives to change the way they think about LGBTQ issues. “I think the Republican Party needs to understand. They need to know people who are trans.” [USA Today, 7/20/16]
Media Previously Whitewashed Trump’s Record On LGBT Rights
Media Have Previously Forgotten Trump’s Anti-LGBT Positions And Cast Him As “The Most Pro-Gay Rights” Republican. In the past, media have whitewashed Trump’s record on LGBT issues, casting him as “one of the more LGBT-friendly” Republicans and even “the most pro-gay rights” Republican. Media have claimed that Trump has a “warmth” for the LGBT community, despite his anti-LGBT positions, and have been fooled by his temporary flip-flopping on issues . [Media Matters, 6/18/16; Media Matters, 6/15/16; Media Matters, 4/24/16; Media Matters, 4/22/16]
Trump, Pence, And The GOP Have Advocated For Anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom Laws”
Trump Has Touted Support For An Anti-LGBT Federal “Religious Freedom” Law. Trump publicly supported the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which is characterized by conservatives as “religious freedom” legislation. However, the bill would codify a broad right to federal anti-LGBT discrimination and nullify current federal protections for LGBT people. In a letter to the American Principles Project, Trump said that if he were president and 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]
Pence Signed Indiana’s Notorious Anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom” Bill Into Law. In March 2015, Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, signed into law his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provided a legal defense for individuals and businesses who cite their religious beliefs while discriminating against LGBT people. The law triggered a furious national backlash, with major companies, celebrities, and government leaders condemning the measure for potentially encouraging discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. Pence and top Indiana Republicans eventually pledged to “clarify” the law by adding language that prevents RFRA from being used as a defense for anti-LGBT discrimination in court. [Media Matters, 4/2/15]
GOP Platform Endorses Act That Would “Enable Anti-LGBT Discrimination.” In the 2016 platform, the Republican Party officially endorses the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). A number of anti-LGBT hate groups have endorsed the so-called “religious freedom” legislation, which would codify a broad right to federal anti-LGBT discrimination. [2016 Republican Platform, accessed 7/21/16; Media Matters, 7/28/15]
Trump, Pence, And The GOP Have Supported Discrimination Against Transgender People
Trump Flip-Flopped On North Carolina’s Discriminatory HB 2, Now Supports The Anti-LGBT Legislation. In April, Trump appeared to oppose North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB 2, which bans transgender people, including public school students, from using public restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. But only a day after he said that North Carolina should “leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints,” Trump reversed his original opposition and asserted that states have the right to enact discriminatory legislation like HB 2. Then in July, Trump declared that he is “going with the state” in support of HB 2. [ABC, 4/21/16; CBS, 4/22/16; The Huffington Post, 7/6/16]
Pence Opposed Nondiscrimination Protections For Transgender Students. In May, Pence lashed out at directives from the Obama administration that were meant to ensure students “‘attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.’” Pence panned the directives, saying, “Policies regarding the security and privacy of students in our schools should be in the hands of Hoosier parents and local schools, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC.” [Fox 59, 5/13/16]
GOP Platform Endorses States Filing Suit Against Federal Nondiscrimination Directives. The Republican Party platform criticizes the Obama administration for using Title IX to protect the rights of LGBT people, saying it’s imposing “a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories.” The platform says the administration's “edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues” and that the party supports “the several states which have filed suit against it.” [2016 Republican Platform, accessed 7/21/16]
Trump, Pence, And The GOP Support Overturning Marriage Equality
Trump Said He Might Appoint Justices To Overturn Obergefell Decision. In a February interview on anti-gay televangelist Pat Robertson’s network, Trump said evangelicals can “trust me on traditional marriage.” Trump called the 2015 Obergefell ruling, which legalized same-sex marriage nationally, a “shocking” decision. In an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace in January, Trump said he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn the Obergefell decision. [Right Wing Watch, 2/18/16; Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 1/31/16]
Pence Called For A Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage. Pence repeatedly called to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage. As governor, Pence pushed for a similar ban in Indiana and argued that the state should not recognize marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. [ThinkProgress, 2/21/14]
GOP Platform Condemns Supreme Court Rulings Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage. In the official party platform, the GOP criticizes the Supreme Court’s decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, calling the latter “lawless” and writing that the court “twisted the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment beyond recognition” and “robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” [2016 Republican Platform, accessed 7/21/16]
Trump, Pence, And The GOP Have Ties To Anti-LGBT Extremists
Pence Was Surrounded By Anti-LGBT Extremists When He Signed The Bill Into Law. At least four leading anti-LGBT activists surrounded Pence when he signed Indiana’s 2015 “religious freedom” bill into law. The activists included Micah Clark, head of the American Family Association of Indiana, who once compared a license plate benefiting an LGBT youth center to one that promotes smoking; Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, who refers to the facts about the hate-crime murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard as gay “propaganda”; Eric Miller, executive director of Advance America, who once distributed a flier falsely claiming that legalizing same-sex marriage would cause pastors to be arrested for preaching against “homosexuality”; and Kellie Fiedorek, litigation counsel to Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has worked internationally to criminalize gay sex. [GLAAD, 3/30/15; Media Matters, 4/16/15]
Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins Contributed To The GOP Platform. Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT hate group FRC, introduced language to the GOP platform supporting “conversion therapy,” a harmful and discredited treatment that has been repeatedly denounced by the medical community and experts as physically and emotionally harmful to patients. Perkins has also called pedophilia “a homosexual problem” and endorsed a Ugandan law that would have imposed the death penalty for gay sex. [Media Matters, 7/12/16]
Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” Features Anti-LGBT Extremists. After a June 21 meeting between Trump and evangelical leaders organized in part by the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) -- both recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as anti-LGBT “hate groups” -- Trump announced the creation of an “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.” The advisory board is stocked with anti-LGBT activists, including James Dobson, founder of the anti-LGBT hate group FRC, who attributed the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school to acceptance of gay marriage; Richard Land of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, who claimed that “homosexual lifestyle” is a product of “the devil” and destroys society; and Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church, who called LGBT families “discombobulated Frankenstein structures.” [Media Matters, 6/23/16]