President Trump's transgender military ban is okay because trans service members should be “in the background.” The administration’s support for a Christian baker who turned away a gay couple was good because it’s “sending power back to the free market.” And when the Justice Department argued against protections for gay and transgender workers, that was, supposedly, “pushing us toward a federal LGBT nondiscrimination law.”
Leading gay Republicans activists raised these defenses in interviews with BuzzFeed News this week, saying Trump remains an LGBT ally, despite a barrage of recent actions that push against or curtail LGBT civil protections.
“The media is overhyping it,” one gay Trump supporter said of concerns about what his administration has been doing.
Gregory T. Angelo, who runs the Log Cabin Republicans, the country's largest gay conservative group, insisted this spring that Trump was a "real friend" to the LGBT community. He said liberals were trying to "twist" the president's pro-gay stance to smear him. “I am all for calling out Republicans when they do anti-gay things," Angelo said at a forum in April. "In fact, it’s my job."
Since then, the Trump administration has issued a volley of orders, court filings, and policies aimed at rolling back LGBT protections and rights — many stemming from Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department.
The federal government took an unusual step this summer by injecting itself into two private federal court cases to argue against gay plaintiffs, and later reversed a policy that protects transgender workers and issuing a ban on transgender troops.
Last week, Sessions released religious liberty guidance that critics fear could let federal workers and contractors sidestep LGBT nondiscrimination policies.
But Angelo, like some other gay Trump supporters, is largely unmoved.
"I can't tell you anything has changed since spring,” Angelo told BuzzFeed News this week. He said Trump’s military ban isn't scheduled to take effect until next March, adding, "I believe we largely are where we were at the beginning of the president's term."
Angelo said his group sent letters to the White House opposing the military ban and criticizing the administration for repealing a policy to protect transgender students. Other than that, he said, “I do not see a tremendous shift on LGBT equality landscape from Trump’s first year in office.”
Peter Boykin, the head of the Gays For Trump, said he remains loyal to both the president and Sessions.
“I met Jeff Sessions, and I don’t think he’s a transphobe or anti-gay,” Boykin told BuzzFeed News, referring to a meeting before the election. But he is “questioning” the Justice Department's support for a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple, he said. “If it’s a Christian bakery, I think they should have to serve everybody. But I still think that Jeff Sessions in a pinch will support us.”
Boykin thinks top Democrats — who have roundly blasted the administration’s recent moves as bigotry — are crying wolf about Trump’s latest LGBT stances, saying, "I don’t really see anything beyond normal liberal LGBT people being triggered.”
Boykin, along with several other gay Republican activists who spoke to BuzzFeed News this week, holds deep faith that Trump is staunchly pro-LGBT in his heart. Read more via Buzzfeed