By John L. MICEK
Last June, after a gunman opened fire in the gay-friendly Pulse nightclub in Orlando, candidate Donald Trump proclaimed he’d be a stronger advocate and champion for America’s LGBTQ community than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“I’m far better for the gay community than she is,” Trump said of Clinton in an interview with Fox News.
“She talks a lot about it, and yet she’ll allow people in [to the U.S.] that want to kill people from the community, from that community, and I think it’s terrible.”
Turns out that was just another lie in the long chain of them that Trump has peddled to American voters.
Last week, Trump’s Justice Department, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reversed a long-standing federal policy protecting transgender Americans from workplace discrimination.
That comes on top of the ongoing controversy over the government’s decision not to count LGBTQ Americans in the 2020 U.S. Census, a move that advocates say is critical to making sure that community receives adequate government services, National Public Radio reported.
The Census Bureau canceled its consideration of a request by multiple agencies to count LGBTQ Americans after one of the agencies that made the request, Sessions’ Justice Department, backed off from it.
The original request for data had been made by the Obama-era Justice Department, as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, NPR reported.
But under Sessions, the Justice Department asked the Census Bureau about the “appropriateness” of certain sexual orientation and gender-identity topics appearing on the upcoming American Community Survey, according to a letter sent in March by the Commerce Department that was published on the website of U.S. Sen Tom Carper, D-Del.” NPR reported.
The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau.
The Justice Department then wrote to the Commerce Department saying that it was “unable to reaffirm” its request for information about LGBT populations “because such a request requires thorough analysis and careful consideration,” NPR reported.
Bills are currently pending in Congress requiring the Census to count LGBTQ Americans in the decennial canvass. So the fight appears to not yet be over.
Still, it’s hard to know where to start quantifying the offensiveness of these twin actions by the Justice Department.
And the only rational conclusion is that Sessions’ DOJ, which is charged with both upholding the law, and safeguarding the rights of us all, wants to erase some Americans from the map.
Then again, these actions are in keeping with Sessions’ votes when he was the senior United State senator from Alabama.
As The Huffington Post reports, while in the Senate, Sessions “voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, against taking up a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and - two times - against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
And, “in 2014, a year after the Supreme Court struck down part of the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act, Sessions co-sponsored a bill that would allow the state definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition,” The Huffington Post reported.
In 2015, Sessions said he wasn’t giving up the fight against Obama-era executive orders on immigration, even after the U.S. House had approved a “clean” spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
At the time, Sessions questioned the legal authority of those orders.
As the nation’s top enforcement officer, however, he seems perfectly content to find whatever slender legal justification he can to sandblast the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and potentially close off millions more from more than $400 billion in services that their taxes underwrite.
That’s just odious – if entirely unsurprising given Sessions’ own wildly discriminatory record on Capitol Hill.
TRUMP’S CHANGING VIEWS
As ABC News thoroughly detailed last year, Trump’s own views on LGBTQ Americans have been something of a moving target.
In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, Trump said he thought it “was important for gay couples who are committed to each other to not be hassled when it comes to inheritance, insurance benefits, and other simple everyday rights.”
As a candidate, however, Trump pivoted away from those views, reiterating his opposition to same-sex marriage. He also told Fox News last year that he would “strongly consider” appointing U.S. Supreme Court judges who would overturn the landmark 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, ABC News reported.
Last year, Human Rights Campaign Director Jay Brown warned Americans to “make no mistake, Donald Trump is no friend of the LGBTQ community,” ABC reported.
Last week, those warnings came home to roost.
There’s no other way to put it: The White House and DOJ can’t be trusted to protect LGBTQ Americans.
As the man himself might say, “Sad.”