Donald Trump's bloodcurdling speech in Phoenix on immigration two nights ago is being compared to his speech a year ago, in the same place, on the same topic. But in many ways it also mirrors his address at the Republican National Convention in July, focused on "law and order," pitting groups against one another, and in the process demonizing all people of color.
At that time he attempted to pit "LGBTQ citizens" against Muslims, reiterating that he will protect gays from a "hateful foreign ideology." For weeks he'd been horribly exploiting the Orlando massacre, which was carried out by an American citizen filled with a hatred of gays who grew up in a country in which hate groups, like the Family Research Council, inspire animus and discrimination.
Because the killer was a Muslim, however, and referenced ISIS, which he seemed to have confused with Al Qaeda and other groups -- and though he had no ties, or even known sympathy, to ISIS before -- Trump spun the massacre as one directed by "radical Islam" and decided this was how he would feign support for LGBT people. As I've pointed out many times, the media ate it up, often describing Trump as "embracing" LGBT "rights" when he is as opposed to any actual "rights" -- including marriage equality -- as any other GOP presidential candidate has been.
On Wednesday night, Trump appeared to expand on his attempt to pit LGBT people against Muslims to include all immigrants as potential enemies. This is of course monumentally ignorant in many ways, including because of the fact that many immigrants, whether Muslim, Mexican or any other group, are LGBT themselves. Many LGBT immigrants are in fact fleeing their countries because of horrific anti-LGBT oppression, such as the case with LGBT Syrian refugees (while Trump rails against Hillary Clinton for calling for accepting more Syrian refugees). And many Central and South American LGBT immigrants are facing terrible homophobic and transphobic abuse in detention centers in the U.S., after fleeing homophobia in their native countries.
That pertinent fact notwithstanding, Trump once again promised in his speech on Wednesday to enforce an "ideological certification" test for immigrants -- "extreme vetting" -- that is as hypocritical as it is unconstitutional:
Another reform involves new screening tests for all applicants that include an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values and love our people....Applicants will be asked for their views about honor killings, about respect for women and gays and minorities, attitudes on Radical Islam, and many other topics as part of the vetting procedure.
This is outrageous because it is evangelical Christian extremist leaders in the United States -- U.S. citizens -- who are right now the major danger to the safety and well-being of LGBT people, taking away our rights and inspiring violence on the streets. When Trump says that the "ideological certification" will make sure immigrants accept our "values" about "women and gays," what "values" is he talking about? Right now the values he embraces regarding LGBT people are those of the Family Research Council (FRC), which endorsed him.
He's promised them and other anti-LGBT groups, via the Christian Broadcasting Network, to appoint judges who would overturn marriage equality and supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow for discrimination against LGBT people by government entities and businesses. And he certainly doesn't support the Equality Act, which would add protections for LGBT people to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and which Hillary Clinton pledged to get passed after it was introduced in Congress last year. He in fact believes such issues should be left to the states, as he said (in a flip-flop) regarding North Carolina's anti-LGBT law which regulates where transgender people go to the bathroom.
So when Trump says immigrants must share our values for "respect of women and gays" he's trying to dupe both GOP moderates and the media into the belief that he actually supports LGBT rights when he doesn't. At the same time, anti-LGBT groups don't mind the mention because they know it's in the service of bashing Muslims -- and FRC leader Tony Perkins, whose church Trump made a big donation to, admitted as much, even using the term LGBT himself -- and that he's, on paper, on board with their domestic anti-LGBT agenda; he'll in fact be speaking to them as the star speaker of FRC's Values Voter Summit next week.
The rhetoric certainly doesn't play to LGBT voters -- even as Trump is now hawking "LGBTQ for Trump" t-shirts -- who know that the threat to their rights and their lives is from domestic gay-bashers who run the evangelical groups Donald Trump has accepted support from. But Trump's goal, as with his outreach to African-Americans, is instead to reach those white straight suburban GOP voters. And, unless the media doesn't continue to be duped, he may succeed at that.