Saying that Donald Trump and his administration are anti-LGBTQ is “just a smear campaign,” according to the gay man who works as deputy White House press secretary.
That man, Judd Deere, recently gave an interview to BuzzFeed in which he was quick to excuse all the administration’s homophobic and transphobic actions. Trump opposes the Equality Act, a sweeping LGBTQ civil rights bill, because it’s “filled with poison pills,” such as preventing business owners from using religious freedom as an excuse to turn away customers, Deere said. He said he’d be fine with being refused a wedding cake because he’s marrying a man. “I'll just go find another cake shop that will” provide the cake, he said. Other policies the administration has pushed on religious refusals are simply about conscience protections, he said.
On the president’s transgender military ban, Deere said it’s justified because trans people “erode military readiness.” He contended that Trump instituted the ban after “extensive studies within the military by senior military officials.” Never mind that Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was surprised by the ban and said he wasn’t consulted on it, and many other top military officials had similar reactions — and oppose the ban.
In Deere’s opinion, it’s liberals who are intolerant. “The left tends to preach complete and total equality except for when you don’t agree 100 percent with them on every issue,” he told BuzzFeed.
Deere was promoted to deputy press secretary in January, after having been director of media affairs since the previous August. In both positions, he has also held the title of special assistant to the president. He joined the Trump White House in December 2017 as director of state communications. Before that he was a spokesman in the Arkansas attorney general’s office, where he had to defend some anti-LGBTQ policies as well — such as the state’s refusal to list both members of a same-sex couple on their child’s birth certificate, a policy that has now been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
He said he has not encountered discrimination at the White House. “These individuals that I work with in this building don’t treat me any differently because I’m gay,” and that includes Trump, he said, although he’s not sure if the president actually knows he’s gay. “If he asked me, sure, I’d have the conversation with him,” Deere added.
His departing supervisor, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had praise for Deere. “I focused on hiring the very best people, and that’s why I hired Judd,” she told BuzzFeed via email. “I am proud to have him on our team to help on LGBT issues as well as the many others in his portfolio.” Stephanie Grisham, a top aide to First Lady Melania Trump, is replacing Sanders.
Deere said he’s not bothered that people hate Trump or “think I’m crazy for working here, because it just doesn’t matter to me.” He does appear to be bothered, however, by the assertion that the administration is anti-LGBTQ, no matter how much evidence there is to support that. “The left really wants to continue to push what I consider to be a disgusting message that LGBT Americans are threatened under this administration,” he told BuzzFeed. “It’s just a smear campaign.”