Remember when President Donald Trump held a large, albeit upside down, rainbow flag with “LGBTs for Trump” scribbled across it at a campaign rally, or the time he tweeted a thank you note to the members of said community and promised to fight for them, or when he got tongue-tied while trying to reach out to them?
Sadly, it seems like he and his administration are doing just the opposite.
Not many people had high expectations for Trump when he entered the White House. He was a former reality TV star with no military or government experience whatsoever. To top that off, he was also an alleged sexual assailant and there is audio evidence proving he bragged about molesting and groping women without their consent. With every scandal that unfolded or every controversy that erupted during his campaign, many wondered if this would be end of what had turned into a deeply divisive election drive.
It was anything but the end — and America has the religious right, conservatives and white nationalists to thank for that.
With people like Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon on his team, Trump turned out to be an even frightening ruler than many expected him to be. His administration facilitated mass incarcerations and deportations while emboldening bigots, Islamophobes, racists and hate groups across the country.
The KKK and so-called alt-right also surfaced on the political scenario, endorsing the president and his chaotic administration.
With Trump’s approval rating hitting a record low and his young presidency in turmoil over the business mogul and his team’s alleged ties with Russia along with the failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the administration had to do something to win back the affections of the mostly conservative voters who got them to the White House.
In a series of tweets, Trump announced the U.S. government would no longer allow transgender citizens to serve in the military in “any capacity” to cut down on “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Although the commander-in-chief said the decision was made after consultation with “my Generals and military experts,” the announcement reportedly took some in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and even the White House by complete surprise. However, some believe the decision had been brewing for a while.
Apparently, Pence is the one who pushed Trump to enact the controversial ban.
The Daily Beast cited White House sources claiming the vice president along with Bannon had been pushing for this kind of policy shift in the military for a while.
“Another White House official underscored … how Trump’s latest announcement would play well ‘with his base’ and social-conservative and Christian-right leaders, some of whom — including Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, who remains close with this White House — have advised the president and administration for months to pull the trigger on killing the Obama-era directive,” the publication claimed.
It is important to note former President Barack Obama lifted the ban on transgender troops openly serving in 2016. However, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who is currently on personal vacation, delayed a decision to allow transgender recruits just last month.
Another White House official told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan the latest ban comes with political motivations — rather than military ones.
Just spoke to a Trump administration official about the transgender military decision. Here's what they said... pic.twitter.com/eOWdvlxTfd— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 26, 2017
The notorious Family Research Council — one of most influential anti-LGBT groups in the country that also boasts Pence as a supporter — was reportedly central to the campaign to ban transgender troops, according to the Newsweek.
Lawyers under Sessions filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, contending Title VII of the act, which bans sex discrimination, does not pertain to sexual orientation.
“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” the brief said. “It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.”
To put it simply, the DOJ claims federal law does not prohibit discrimination against gay Americans. With hate crimes on a frightening rise, this news is nothing but problematic.
Tragically, this is not the first time the Trump administration has targeted the LGBTQ+ community.
Earlier this year in February, the government rescinded protection for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity. Later in June, the White House declined to acknowledge the “LGBT Pride Month.”
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Carlo Allegri