By Daisy Jasmine, Staff Writer
Almost two weeks ago, the United Nations voted on a resolution which condemns the use of the death penalty to punish “same sex relations.” The resolution passed with 27 countries in support, 13 rejecting, and 7 abstaining. The passing of this resolution is a historic stride forward with regard to human rights, and LGBTQ rights in particular. However, most of the media coverage, public attention, and controversy have focused on one fly in the ointment, and an unmistakably enormous one at that; among the 13 countries that voted against the resolution, one was the United States.
In the days following the vote, representatives of the Trump administration were quick to attempt to quell the damage and clarify the motivation behind the US’s decision. According to a spokesperson, “[…] we voted against this resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.” Essentially, the PR damage-control version is that the US loves the death penalty more than it cares about upholding human rights—which is problematic enough on its own. All this means, however, is that the decision was at best a case of harmful negligence toward LGBTQ rights. All of the public outcry and shock over this recent event overlooks the undeniable fact that this is only the latest in a series of attacks on the LGBTQ community since Trump took office.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Fla., 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist[…] This time, the terrorist targeted the 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. Believe me.
– Trump (Washington Blade)
Shortly after the Pulse massacre in Orlando, Florida, Trump used this tragic event to fuel his anti-Islam agenda, as can be seen in the quote above. This was met with mixed responses. Some members of the community and allies saw it as historical support of the community from a GOP candidate. However, many others were suspicious due to the stark contrast with this and his stated positions on LGBTQ issues, including his known lack of support for same sex marriage.
As Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade stated in his July 22, 2016 article, “… Trump’s pledge to protect LGBT people against terrorism stands in contrast to positions on LGBT rights he has staked out on the campaign trail.” Johnson’s insight in this article would prove to be a bit of keen intuition, as since his election, Trump and his administration have again and again attacked the community.
From Trump’s first moments in office, members of the community were alarmed when the LGBTQ community pages on the White House official website suddenly disappeared the day after his inauguration. After that, the anti-LGBTQ attacks were fast and furious including:
- A draft of an executive order was leaked which would grant federal protections to anti-LGBTQ discrimination on the basis of religious belief. (It has since, in the past week, been officially released in the form of a “Religious Liberty Guidance” memo from Jeff Sessions which outlines, according to Courthouse News, “[…] 20 guiding principles reminding agencies that freedom of religion is a fundamental right and that the free exercise of religion ‘includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.’”
- According to an article from NBC news, “The Departments of Education and Justice essentially [revoked] the Obama administration’s guidance on equal access to facilities for transgender students.”
- A military ban of all transgender troops was the disheartening surprise in August of 2017. The ban, which first appeared as a vile threat composed by the president in a late-night tweet, was soon after signed into an executive directive.
- In an act that is seen as not only hateful but symbolic, the Trump administration moved to omit sexual orientation and gender identity demographic information in the US census for 2020. Coincidentally, HHS and HUD also followed suit in their surveys removing the same demographic questions. Meghan Maury, director of the Criminal and Economic Justice Project at the National LGBTQ Task Force, is quoted in The Hill as stating, “This is part of a bigger pattern […] It seems like it would be pretty far outside the norm for three relatively independent agencies to make these decisions in the space of a month.” This trend is a strange coincidence and alarming to anyone paying attention.
- In a bizarre move, in March of 2017, the Trump administration delegated two groups to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, including “C-FAM,” which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its aggressively anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
These are just a handful of examples demonstrating how, in the year since his election, the Trump administration has made it clear that it is no ally to the LGBTQ community. The contentious decision of the US to prioritize the death penalty over the basic human rights of the LGBTQ community is an unfortunately unsurprising development.
It is this reporter’s opinion that the long-overdue strides of the Obama administration are being reversed in what appears to be a game of one-upmanship and childish vengeance by the GOP. This is in addition to the countless other forms of discrimination, bigotry, and injustice in the United States today. This must be a call for action. If we want to claim that we have ever been a “land of the free and home of the brave,” we must resist and speak out in forums that reach farther than our Facebook feeds. Real contact with our state and local legislators is a good first step toward fighting the numerous executive decisions and official motions that are marching relentlessly forward and setting us decades back.