The LGBTQ community held its collective breath on Monday after sources close to The White House ― perhaps even in The White House ― claimed that President Donald Trump was scheduled to sign an executive order sometime this week that would severely limit or revoke a collection of rights currently held by LGBTQ Americans.
An unverified account that claims to be overseen by members of the president’s staff who have “gone rogue” to leak information about the administration tweeted the following on Monday:
No one knew exactly what the order would entail, but most believed that it would revoke President Barack Obama’s 2014 directive that prohibited discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Others, as LGBTQNation reported, believed it would allow “federally funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents” and “allow federal employees to refuse to serve people based on the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that gender is an immutable characteristic set at birth, which would impact a broad range of federal benefits.”
Early Tuesday morning, in the midst of our latest national crisis, The White House quietly sent out a press release stating that Obama’s 2014 directive would stand and assuring LGBTQ Americans that President Trump “is determined to protect the rights of all Americans”:
President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.
Go ahead and breathe the tiniest sigh of relief that you aren’t being stripped of your civil rights just 11 days after Trump came to power (phew!) but don’t be fooled into thinking this is some kind of bold or inclusive move by the president. And don’t celebrate being permitted to keep the rights we’ve spent years fighting to secure. Would you thank your boyfriend for not cheating on you ― even though he easily could have? Of course not. We shouldn’t be awarding Trump points for managing to not act like an asshole. As Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said on Twitter, “claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar.”
The ACLU put it even more bluntly: “If Donald Trump is serious about being an ally to the LGBT community, it starts with abandoning an agenda driven by fear and prejudice.”
What’s more, Trump’s decision to not do something bigoted is not proof that he won’t ultimately do the dead wrong thing some time next week or next month or the month after that.
Let’s not forget that members of his administration, like Vice President Mike Pence, and would-be members, like Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, hold vehemently anti-queer records. Let’s not forget that Trump himself is against marriage equality and supported North Carolina’s move to enforce its transphobic House Bill 2. Not exactly encouraging, is it?
Even less encouraging are the 400 virulently anti-LGBTQ religious leaders Trump met with last summer and the rumor of a “religious freedom” law on the horizon that would allow legal discrimination against queer people.
Do not let Trump or his administration convince you that the crumb they flicked in our direction on Tuesday morning offers any kind of meaningful commitment to the LGBTQ community ― especially as we watch what he is currently doing to our Muslim and immigrant friends and as we consider the threats that women, people of color and many other minority groups in this country face. Do not take their bait. Do not become a pawn in their plot to pit one group of oppressed people against another or forget that our oppressions intersect. We’re smarter than that, we’re better than that and we’re all in this together.
Donald Trump is not an LGBTQ hero. Championing freedom and equality involves more than waving a rainbow flag and correctly stringing together the letters L-G-B-T-Q during a campaign speech.
We dodged a bullet this morning, but the gun is still loaded and pointed at our heads. Keep screaming. Keep fighting. Keep showing up to protests. Be loud. Be angry. Be righteous. Keep calling your representatives and keep telling them if they won’t help take back this country and protect every last one of us, they’ll lose their jobs. Stay vigilant. Stay focused. And no matter what President Trump tells you or what kind of symbolic token of affection he tosses your way, do not, for one brief second, believe you are safe.