Donald Trump is celebrating National Coming Out Day by addressing an annual event frequented by LGBTQ+ hate groups.
Just one day after the October 11 observance of LGBTQ+ visibility, President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar are scheduled to appear at the Values Voter Summit. The annual conservative political gathering is focused on issues like opposing LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, and divorce based on Christian values, as well as a building a strong military.
The event will mark Trump’s fourth time attending the summit, one he’s previously keynoted and that has welcomed speakers including Vice President Mike Pence, Ann Coulter, and former White House strategist Steve Bannon, as well as a variety of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups.
While the Christian Broadcast Network was the first to report the president’s attendance, the news was confirmed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national nonprofit which tracks U.S. hate groups.
“It’s incredibly concerning to see the American president lend legitimacy to an anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ+ organization that makes their purpose to demonize protected classes of people,” Keegan Hankes, interim director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, tells Out. “President Trump’s decision to attend the event makes it clear that he’s given hate a home in the Whtie House.”
SPLC has designated the Family Research Council, which hosts the yearly event, among its aforementioned list of hate groups. The Washington, D.C.-based organization is led by Trump advisor Tony Perkins, a far-right activist who has compared LGBTQ+ to Nazis, pedophiles, and terrorists. He also called the “It Gets Better” project “disgusting” and advocates for conversion therapy.
In years past, the Voter Values Summit has given a home to views that the “B” in LGBTQ+ stands for bestiality and that characterize being transgender as a “vehicle for tyranny.”
Pence attended the summit months before the 2018 midterm elections, as it’s one of the routine stops for conservative elected officials to appeal to a base of voters. As USA Today reported, Pence told attendees that the election was a "choice between a party that celebrates America and one that often demeans millions of our neighbors and friends."
This year’s Voter Values Summit, which lasts from October 11 to 13, takes place days after the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether LGBTQ+ people are entitled to employment protection under federal civil rights laws.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, has filed a series of briefs arguing it should be legal to fire workers for being LGBTQ+.