Trump backers love to pass around an interview that the president-elect did with The Advocate some 17 years ago. They say it’s proof that Donald Trump is actually an unappreciated supporter of LGBT people.
Well, today we got our first sign that everything Trump once told The Advocate those 17 years ago was just for show. Because today there are widespread reports that he’s picked lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative.
In that Advocate interview from 2000, as he considered a run on the Reform Party ticket, Trump spent as much time talking about his disregard for whether someone is gay (“Their lifestyle is of no interest to me.”) as he did bragging about his own negotiating skills.
“I’d like to end the rip-off of America by our allies,” he said when asked to name his four top priorities as president. “We pay for their defense, and they screw us with their trade policies. I would appoint myself U.S. trade representative and conduct the negotiations with our major trading partners myself — and I guarantee you the rip-off of America would end.”
But Trump isn’t naming himself trade representative, and he isn’t supporting the Equality Act either.
Trump said in The Advocate’s interview that he wanted to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protection for sexual orientation, same as it does now for African-Americans. “It would be simple. It would be straightforward,” he said, even claiming he was the first person to come up with the idea.
But Trump doesn’t support the Equality Act, a proposal in Congress that does just that. The legislation was backed during the Democratic primary by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. President Obama announced his support for it last year.
Even as blogs like The Gateway Pundit wrote about The Advocate interview and claimed it as evidence he’s a better LGBT ally than Clinton, or conservatives on Reddit shared it as supposed proof of his consistency, Trump has said nothing. He spent more than a year ignoring the interview and its promises to support hate crimes legislation, appoint LGBT people to his administration, and amend the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians.
Actually, Trump instead promises to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which is basically a federal version of the “license to discriminate” law once signed in Indiana by vice president-elect Mike Pence. Signing FADA would be the opposite of amending the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians.
Trump’s uncharacteristic silence about what he said 17 years ago should’ve been the first clue that nothing he mentioned during that interview remains true today. He also defended Mexican immigrants from attacks by Pat Buchanan and expressed his support for universal health care. If you’re waiting for any further clue that Trump wasn’t credible on his support for LGBT people, then read what he said at the same time about his support for legislation now considered too liberal for even President Obama to pass.
“I would press for universal health care,” he said, listing it as his third priority as president. Naming himself U.S. Trade Representative was priority no. 2. “It’s ridiculous that the richest country on Earth can’t provide first-rate health care for our people. I would put forward a comprehensive health care program and fund it with an increase in corporate taxes.”
Republicans in Congress are right now preparing to repeal Obamacare and they aren’t considering replacing it with universal health care or an increase in corporate taxes to pay for it.