Donald Trump on Thursday staked his claim to being the “most pro-gay President in American history”, even as the Democractic Party simultaneously styled itself as having the “most pro-equality platform in history.”
Trump tweeted “My great honor” in response to a video by the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the largest organisation of LGBTQI conservatives and allies, saying he was the “most pro-gay President in American history.”
My great honor!!! https://t.co/kh2a5yumef
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2020
The LCR’s claims were at odds with GLAAD that has listed over 170 attacks on the LGBTQI community by Trump and his administration in its policies, actions and statements. The attacks started minutes after Trump was sworn into office in 2017, with all mentions of the LGBTQI community being erased from the websites of the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor.
“Since the day President Trump took office, his administration has waged a nonstop onslaught against the rights of LGBTQI people,” the National Centre for Transgender Equality has said and listed the attacks against the trans communities.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention, which concluded on Thursday, in Milwaukee has scored a few historic “firsts” for the LGBTQI community. From the first openly gay LGBTQI keynote speakers to the first gay Presidential candidate and the first trans elected official, the 2020 convention has been touted as the “most pro-equality platform in history.”
The number that is perhaps the most impactful for the policies of a new Joe Biden/Kamala Harris administration is the delegate count at the convention. Of the 3979 delegates who are part of the convention, there were 635 LGBTQI delegates, including 30 transgender delegates.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the most pro-equality candidates in our history and they’re going to be the most pro-equality President and VP when we send them to the White House,” said Sean Maloney, the first openly gay person elected to the United States Congress from New York in a Twitter post.
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@spmaloney) August 18, 2020
“From the most pro-equality platform in history to the first LGBTQI people to speak as keynote speakers, the 2020 Democratic National Convention marks a turning point for our community. We have fought for a seat at the table for generations, and at this convention more LGBTQI people will serve as delegates than any other party convention in history. It’s clear our voice is not only valued but seen as essential by the Democratic party,” said Alphonso David, President of Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest LGBTQI political advocacy groups in the US.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Presidential candidate in the US to appear in a national debate and win delegates, spoke on Thursday in the lead up to Biden’s speech. There are online whispers that Buttigieg will possibly be part of the cabinet, should the Democrats win the Presidential bid.
The other speakers included Senator Tammy Baldwin, who in 1988 became the first lesbian woman to be elected to the United States Congress and Danica Roem, the first transgender elected official.
On Tuesday, Robert Garcia, Long Beach, California’s first openly gay mayor, Georgia State Representative Sam Park, and Pennsylvania State representative Malcolm Kenyatta, became the first LGBTQI keynote speakers at a major party convention. The trio were among the 17 “rising stars” to deliver the keynote.
“When I wanted to marry the man I loved, Joe Biden was the first national figure to support me and my family,” Kenyatta, the first gay black man to be elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, said in the pre-recorded keynote.
The HRC President said he saw the LGBTQI speakers at the convention as representing the future. “Leaders like Senator Tammy Baldwin, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Del. Danica Roem, State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Sam Park, and Mayor Robert Garcia represent not only the diversity of our community but the future of our movement. This convention season, one thing is clear: Democrats are leading with unity, inclusivity and diversity while Republicans are leading with ignorance, divisiveness and bigotry,” said David.
One of the most moving segments at the virtual Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night was when Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of the late Matthew Shepard, appeared during the roll call to cast Wyoming’s delegate votes in favour of Biden.
21-year-old Shepard had been killed in a brutal homophobic attack in 1998. Over a decade later in 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The Shepards credited Vice President Biden for helping pass the federal law meant to protect LGBTQI people from hate crimes.
At the Democractic National Convention’s LGBTQ Caucus meeting on Wednesday, Senator Baldwin said “we have on the ticket the most pro-equality leaders for president and vice president that we have ever had.” The Senator pointed out that besides his involvement in the passing of the hate crimes law, Biden was also part of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and had supported marriage equality in a 2012 interview.
Buttigieg highlighted the “epidemic of violence” against black transgender women and Chicago’s first lesbian mayor Lori Lightfoot reimded the caucus that they will have to be vigilant against hate and anti-LGBTQI violence. “We have to keep fighting so that our young people have the support that they need to lead their own authentic lives,” said Lightfoot.