Don’t Give Trump a Free Pass

Remember the optimism we had before the Nov. 8 election? Camp’s November editorial expressed great hopes for a Hillary Clinton presidency. Electing candidates like Jason Kander to represent Missouri seemed so possible.

Like others, we were shocked at the election’s outcome.

I’ll admit that I have not felt so depressed since the 2000 elections, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush. Concentrating on work was impossible. The LGBT community has made so many gains under President Obama. It felt like we were going back in time.

For many people in our LGBT and allied communities, the disappointment immediately led to anger. Back in 2000, social media was not prevalent, but this time our Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of anger. No one could understand how a man like Donald Trump, who has clearly encouraged hatred based on gender, race, religion, and countless lies, could lead and represent the United States. Immediately we heard and read comments saying “Not My President.”

But unless there is some miraculous vote by the Electoral College on Dec. 19, we are stuck with a Trump/Pence administration.

I was watching The View on ABC the other day, when the political activist, author and commentator Van Jones made a guest appearance. He’s not happy about the Trump win, but I thought he summed it up well, saying: “This is important to me because people keep saying we have to give him a chance, and we do have to give him a chance, but we don’t have to give him a pass on everything. We don’t have to give him a pass on the things they never gave Obama a pass on.”

I thought Jones’ comment was brilliant. As Americans, we have to support the commander-in-chief. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn a blind eye and give him a pass.

Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice president, and Pence has been no friend to the LGBT community. Pence has come out in favor of gay conversion therapy and “religious freedom” bills that would discriminate against LGBT people.

Trump’s Cabinet selections have been no allies to the LGBT community either. And his choice of the alt-right hero Stephen Bannon of the hateful Breitbart website for a key White House position is an affront to every open-minded American.

The only consolation is that as reprehensible as Trump and his supporters have been, many of these changes would have happened under other Republican nominees like Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or others. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been wanting to privatize Medicare with or without Trump. The Republican-led Senate and House have held up Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for eight months. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell vowed to try to make Obama a one-term president and thankfully didn’t succeed, but still was a foe of all Obama-led legislation, particularly the Affordable Care Act. Trump had nothing to do with that Republican-led impasse.

Most experts think this new administration can’t change the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. It would take a separate court case and it’s doubtful that would happen. Even Trump said in his 60 Minutes interview that he wasn’t going after same-sex marriage. At least for now.

The bigger threats that the LGBT community faces are gaining transgender rights and passing the Equality Act in Congress that would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It would ban discrimination in employment, public education, housing, credit, and more on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The bill has been sitting in committee for over a year and needs to be passed.

But the effects of a Trump presidency will spread well beyond LGBT concerns. Social Security and Medicare reform threaten seniors. Women’s reproductive rights have never been more at risk. And repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect more than 20 million people who are covered by its health insurance.   

So we have to be vigilant under this new administration. It will be even more necessary to support our advocacy groups such as the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, Victory Fund, PROMO, Equality Kansas and more.

PROMO has created a great list of FAQs about the results of this election and how you might be affected. Check it out: promoonline.org/575-post-election-frequently-asked-questions.html

In the meantime, stay strong! Work hard to elect candidates like U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and others in the 2018 mid-term elections who will keep fighting for us all.

For those who want to make your voices heard about the election of Trump, there will be a local protest from 2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 20, across from Union Station. The group has a Facebook page: Trump’s Inauguration Day Protest. www.facebook.com/events/1820283864880110/

We invite your opinions. Send a letter to the editor (250-word max) or submit a request for an op-ed to be published in our next issue to jlong@campkc.com. We’d love to hear from you.