Last week delivered a hard dose of reality to those who kept assuring us that DonaldTrump would be a friend to the LGBTQ community in spite of the candidate’s strategic alliance with the religious right. During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last summer, political performance artist Milo Yiannopoulos even called Trump “the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history.” Talk about alternative facts!
Of course, Gays for Trump are far from the only Trump voters who have been betrayed this month. They join a list that includes the working poor, people in rural America, and people who believed Trump’s rhetoric about health care — all of whom will have their lives made more difficult if Trump’s budget becomes a reality.
The betrayal of Trump’s LGBTQ supporters took a striking, if less visible, form last week: Trump named representatives of two of the most intensely anti-equality organizations in the country to be part of an official U.S. delegation to the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
Most galling is the inclusion of Lisa Correnti, executive vice president of the Center for Family and Human Rights (formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute). C-Fam, led by the fanatically antigay Austin Ruse, is dedicated to keeping any recognition of the human rights of LGBTQ people and families out of international treaties and other U.N. documents. The same goes for women’s access to abortion and other reproductive care.
C-Fam has always portrayed itself as a tiny David at war against a Goliath of “abortion lovers,” “radical homosexuals,” and “sexual revolutionaries” at the U.N. Thanks to Trump, it’s now part of Team USA.
Ruse is a defender of Vladimir Putin’s antigay policies and has praised defenders of harsh laws that subject gay people in some African countries to long prison sentences. Last year C-Fam hosted a gathering at the U.N. for the “Group of Friends of the Family,” a deceptively pleasant name for a group that includes many of the world’s most repressive regimes. Ruse gushed over countries like Saudi Arabia and Sudan for helping to “save” U.N. documents from unwanted language about the family (such as a recognition that there are various forms of families).
Last fall, C-Fam worked feverishly with Russia and anti-LGBTQ African and Islamist countries to try to overturn the Human Rights Council’s historic decision to hire an independent expert to investigate discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In waging its global culture war, C-Fam promotes the destructive smear that LGBT people are threats to children. Last summer Ruse warned his followers about “radical homosexuals” and their allies: “Without a doubt they are coming for your daughter and your son and your grandchildren. They don’t have any children of their own. They are deliberately barren. So, they have set their sights on yours, your innocent girls and boys.” Similarly, in 2015 he said “radical homosexuals” are among the devil’s “minions” who are “coming for our children” and “want to win our children over for their nefarious causes that come from the very pits of hell.”
C-Fam’s partner in the U.S. delegation, the Heritage Foundation, is at the heart of a massive religious right coalition that opposes marriage equality, opposes laws that protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and supports a legal definition of religious liberty that would enshrine a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people (and single parents) in federal law. Heritage also backs Trump’s proposal to make the religious right more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on electoral politicking by churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits.
C-Fam and Heritage have also both been active in the World Congress of Families, a global network through which social conservatives share information and strategies for denying legal recognition and protection to LGBTQ people and families.
Elevating their credibility and authority, like making the religious right more powerful politically, is in no way good for LGBTQ people in the U.S. or anywhere in the world.
PETER MONTGOMERY is a senior fellow at People for the American Way.