With the FBI, a special counsel, a House and a Senate committee, and most importantly, the media, all investigating accusations of collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, our president is in serious trouble. He finally realizes it too; CNN reports that Trump's lawyers are investigating details of impeachment proceedings, ostensibly so they can have their defense ready.
Who's to say whether Teflon Don will weather this latest storm; his goose certainly looked cooked after the not-so-damning Access Hollywood tape -- where he bragged about using his celebrity status to grab women by their genitals -- came to light during the campaign. But with the president himself basically admitting to obstruction of justice, to both NBC and the same Russian officials he divulged classified information to, the chances of him lasting until January 2021 are looking increasingly slim.
Great, right? Having Trump booted out of office will increase the chances of humanity making it to the 2020s, but it doesn't bode too well for LGBT people, specifically. Here are the LGBT stances of Trump's successors, all of whom are straight white male Republicans.
Vice President Mike Pence
Our current VP, caught numerous times either lying or in the dark about his boss's actions, is one of the most homophobic, transphobic politicians in the nation. This former conservative radio and talk show host is a proud member of the Tea Party set, and famously remarked he was "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order."
Pence believes religion, namely his, evangelicalism, should trump nearly everything else in society. As governor of Indiana, he famously signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which puported to stop unconstitutional government interference with one's "exercise of religion." Most know what that really meant, though -- business owners and government workers would be allowed to turn away LGBT people if their existence conflicted with deeply held religious beliefs. When confronted on whether his RFRA was a "license to discriminate," he politely dodged, which is the Pence way. Only after the state was threatened with major corporations picking up and leaving Indiana, did Pence and state legislators revise the law so it couldn't be weaponized against LGBT people.
Pence is also a major opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion, and it's nearly guaranteed he would nominate someone to the Supreme Court who would make Neil Gorsuch look like Ruth Bader Ginsburg (doesn't mean that person will get confirmed, though).
The vice president's religious fanaticism has also put lives in danger. During his time as governor, he defunded Planned Parenthood, which provided HIV testing in some of Indiana's poorest counties. Pence's actions helped bring an end to all HIV testing in Scott County in 2013. The poverty-stricken area later experienced an outbreak; with 23,000 residents, 150 people were suddenly HIV-positive.
Pence wouldn't sully his righteous mouth by bringing up transgender rights and his stance on so-called conversion therapy is murky. The website for his 2000 congressional campaign mentioned he didn't want AIDS funding reauthorized until there was an "audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." Pence has since denied he supports torturing people by trying to change them from gay or bi to straight, or from transgender to cisgender.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
There is certainly a chance that Pence could be caught up in Trump's Russia scandal, especially as it relates to former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and Pence's confusing statements regarding his relationship to Russia. Should Pence be disqualified for the presidency, smug health-care destroyer Paul Ryan would step in.
Ryan, who at 47 is a decade younger than Pence, has always positioned himself as a fiscal conservative, someone who dreamed of defunding government aid as a frat boy. But the Wisconsin congressman's LGBT rights record is dismal as well.
Ryan opposes marriage equality and voted to alter the constitution to ban it federally. He also voted against the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," and, inexplicably, against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The former vice-presidential nominee has two sorta-positive marks; he voted in 2007 for a failed bill that would have banned employment discrimination against LGBT people. He also changed course on adoption by LGBT people. He voted for a D.C.-specific bill in 1999 that would have banned adoption by same-sex couples, but four years ago said he regretted that decision and now supports queer parenting (well, he didn't quite use those words). Regardless, he has a 0 on HRC's Congressional Scorecard, which measures the LGBT rights voting record of every federal office-holder.
President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch
Ryan has his own problems, too. A Washington Post story revealed that congressman Kevin McCarthy told fellow Republicans last year that Trump receiving money from Russian president Vladimir Putin. Ryan was part of that conversation and told everyone about it to shut up and keep it within the "family." Ryan and McCarthy defended themselves by saying it was a lighthearted, humor-filled chat. We'll see if the FBI feels the same way when this all plays out.
Should the presidential line of succession lead to third-in-line Orrin Hatch, the second-highest ranking senator, it will equate to an 83-year-old president, making Trump and Hillary Clinton (both dinged for their age) look like adolescents by comparison. Even though the Utah senator was born during the Great Depression, he's more progressive on LGBT rights than Pence, and seemingly more than Ryan.
The former Mormon missionary compared gay people to Nazis back in 1977 -- the year he joined the Senate -- and said they shouldn't teach. The senator has become more moderate since. No, he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage, but supports civil unions and even voted for 2013's failed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned anti-LGBT bias in America's workplaces. Disappointingly, Hatch also pushed for President Obama's 2014 executive order banning LGBT discrimination among federal contractors to include religious exemptions. The truth is, Hatch has voted against almost all LGBT-inclusive bills and has a 16 on HRC's Congressional Scorecard.