The Trump Administration Poses a Serious Threat to LGBT Rights. Here's Why.
By Matt Baume
It's a cabinet of deplorables.
Not a single one of Donald Trump's cabinet nominees has ever said that LGBT people deserve equal protection of the law. Anti-gay activists are littered throughout Trump's cabinet, and they could work together to undermine queer rights nationwide—including a weakening or overturning of marriage equality.
As is the case with all of Trump's appointees, many of these people seem to have been chosen for maximum irony. The woman in charge of education supported groups that promote child-abusing "ex-gay" camps; the man in charge of constitutional rights thinks that extending those rights to LGBTs is part of a dangerous "agenda"; the person in charge of Social Security seems likely to spread insecurity for queer retirees.
Is there anything that can be done? Perhaps—now's the time to call (not email, not write, not tweet) members of Congress and demand that these dangerous nominees be rejected. You can reach your elected officials by calling one number: 1-844-USA-0234. Just punch in your ZIP code and it'll automatically connect you with their offices. Then let them know that you don't want any nominees confirmed unless they express unequivocal support for LGBT equality.
Before you dial, flip through each cabinet nominee and learn just how they threaten LGBT rights.
Photos from Flickr and AP.
Rex Tillerson—Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson is the likely Secretary of State. Under his leadership, ExxonMobil steadfastly resisted implementing nondiscrimination policies and only extended health coverage to same-sex spouses after the Treasury Department required it. To his credit, when he was head of the Boy Scouts, Tillerson oversaw the dismantling of rules that barred gay Scouts—but maintained the ban on gay leaders, which was only removed later.
Jeff Sessions—Attorney General
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is Trump's nominee for attorney general. His opposition to civil rights is clear: he voted to keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said that hate crime protections "cheapen the Civil Rights Movement," and favored a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. As head of the Department of Justice, Sessions would be in a position to argue before the Supreme Court that marriage equality should be overturned.
Tom Leppert—Social Security advisor
Tom Leppert is advising Trump on Social Security, and previously called for marriage to be limited to straight couples. It's possible that Leppert might demand a religious exemption for Social Security Administration employees who don't wish to extend benefits to queer couples, and that could lead to a massive Supreme Court showdown.
Betsy DeVos—Secretary of Education
Betsy DeVos, who will oversee education, belongs to a family that has donated millions to groups that push "ex-gay" torture treatments. She'll be in a perfect position to dismantle civil rights protections at the Department of Education.
Elaine Chao—Secretary of Transportation
Elaine Chao can do the same as DeVos at the Department of Transportation; she helped manage the re-election campaign of her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, notorious for his opposition to equality. Chao also worked for the Heritage Foundation, which recently claimed that marriage equality causes abortions.
Rick Perry—Secretary of Energy
Rick Perry, Trump's choice for the Department of Energy, is a huge threat to queer families. In 2014, he voiced support for "pray away the gay" camps; said that opposing the Boy Scout ban on gays was like opposing slavery; signed a National Organization for Marriage pledge to oppose marriage equality; and said that it was "wrong" that LGBT servicemembers could serve openly. Good news: he'll be in charge of American nuclear weapons.
Ben Carson—Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Ben Carson had plenty of chances to speak out against LGBT rights during his failed candidacy for president against former rival—now boss—Trump. Carson has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and child molestation and has said that male-on-male sexual assault in prisons is proof that homosexuality is a "choice." As head of the HUD, he will be in charge of any discrimination claims made by LGBTs seeking housing.
Mike Pompeo, Trump's choice for the CIA, stated his opposition to marriage equality as recently as 2013; working with Tillerson at the State Department, they could undermine employment protections for LGBT diplomats around the world.
Nikki Haley—UN Ambassador
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was nominated to be ambassador to the UN. America's previous ambassador worked to eliminate civil rights abuses around the world; but Haley promoted those abuses in South Carolina when she fought to block gay couples from marrying.
Ken Klukowski is overseeing constitutional rights for the transition team. He previously warned of the "homosexual agenda" and worked for the anti-science group Family Research Council.
Mike Flynn—National Security Advisor
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn made a name for himself by opposing open service by trans people.
Ken Blackwell, who oversees domestic policy for the transition, said "I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it's a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed."