Courtesy of Time Magazine. Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/ AP Images

Following Trump’s announcement to ban transgender persons from serving in the military, is there a case for LGBT persons to support Trump anymore?

I never expected Trump to be a miracle worker. While there were plenty of ideas expressed by candidate Trump that I strongly support, I didn’t expect much of it to come to fruition. I teach political science, after all, I know how it goes. Congress largely calls the shots.

On LGBT issues, however, I was optimistic.  I’d hoped, given the times, given the inevitability of progress, and given Trump’s past, that he’d move the Republican Party cautiously forward.  I had no objection to Trump overturning Obama’s executive order on the controversial bathroom bill because I don’t consider it the President’s business (or North Carolina’s, might I add) who uses what bathroom in a local public school.  I do not consider decentralization of LGBT issues to be a violation of their rights, for reasons I’ve expressed before.  

Trump crossed the line this time

Until now, I’ve defended Trump on LGBT issues.  I’ve often described him as “the most pro-LGBT Republican presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater, if ever.”  But now, Trump has announced via Twitter that he will not allow transgender persons to serve in our military.

This is the same Trump who has vowed to go after ISIS and radical Islam in part because they are hostile to LGBT persons.  That being the case, shouldn’t transgender Americans have the right to fight for their rights against these dangerous forces that threaten their freedom and their very lives?

Will Trump become a conventional Republican on this too?

So far, I can’t think of one single thing Trump has done that directly benefits LGBT rights.  While I do think decentralization of the bathroom issue will benefit transgender persons in the long term, it certainly doesn’t help them right away, and most saw it as a step backward. Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, Gorsuch, and whoever follows, are likely to favor rolling back LGBT rights, or at least not advancing them.  Trump hasn’t even so much as taken up Betsy Devos’s suggestions for anti-bullying initiatives to protect LGBT students.  

In practice, it seems President Trump is no more pro-LGBT than George W. Bush. I doubt Trump will be proposing a national ban on same-sex marriage. But I wonder, if Trump were President in 2001 – 04 when such a policy was more politically palatable, I wonder if Trump would have been supporting such a policy then.  

Is there a case for LGBT persons to support Trump anymore?

I feel sorry for whomever Trump puts in charge of appealing to LGBT persons for his re-election bid in 2020.  If it was me, the best I can say to transgender persons regarding Trump’s record as President is – Trump took away a federal guarantee that transgender public school students can use the bathroom of their choice, and it will be good for you in the long run, even though it doesn’t seem that way.  

I suppose one could highlight Trump’s advancements against Islamist terrorism.  I knew a flamingly gay man, a former coworker, in 2016 who was a passionate Trump supporter in large part because of his desire to see ISIS wiped out.  

So, is fierce anti-terrorism all Trump can offer the LGBT community?  Yesterday, I would have encouraged my LGBT friends to be patient with Trump.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  He can’t turn the Republican Party pro-LGBT overnight!  Just give him time.  But now, can I really blame them if they decide to vote for whatever establishment hack the Dems decide to nominate for 2020?  I can’t.  

To President Trump

Well, Mr. Trump.  As Caitlin Jenner would say, “You can still fix this.”  But so far, Mr. President, your record on LGBT issues has gone from disappointing to appalling.

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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