It’s not often that anti-LGBTQ activist Michael Brown writes in agreement with gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile. But in his effort to make sense of Donald Trump’s Friday tweet celebrating LGBT Pride month, Brown finds himself agreeing with Signorile that Trump’s anti-equality actions speak louder than his words.
Trump’s tweet was surprising because he has avoided acknowledging Pride celebrations in previous years, and because his administration’s actions—dismantling legal protections for LGBTQ people and naming anti-equality judges to the federal courts—have been closely aligned with the desires of his anti-LGBTQ Religious Right base and its leaders who now hold powerful positions in the administration.
Writing in the Daily Beast on Friday night, Signorile called Trump’s celebration of Pride “as fraudulent and calculated as his claim to be fighting to decriminalize homosexuality.”
Signorile concluded, “This is in fact an attempt to portray himself as supportive of LGBTQ people as he gears up for the 2020 re-election campaign.” He explained, “The goal is less about getting much of the community’s backing—which will be near impossible—but more about keeping or getting the support of many others who might be turned off by blatant anti-LGBTQ bigotry.”
In the Christian Post on Monday, Brown quoted that line in a column entitled, “Making sense of President Trump and LGBT issues and people.” Brown noted that the Trump administration opposes the Equality Act, saying that it undermines parental and conscience rights. “This speaks louder than any celebratory tweet,” Brown wrote.
Brown’s column comes across as a strained effort to tell Trump-loving conservative Christians not to worry about the president’s public embrace of the LGBTQ community, while also defending the president from charges of rank dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Brown said that he “finds a consistency to his words and actions,” speculating that Trump’s years as a “New York liberal and Hollywood Insider” gave him “plenty of good relationships with LGBT people.”
My impression, then, is that Donald Trump wants gays to be treated fairly and, as stated in the Fox interview, he has no personal issue with gay “marriage.”
But when he feels that LGBT activism infringes on the rights of others, especially conservative Christians, he will stand against that activism. Moreover, many of those he has appointed to serve in his administration have deeper, faith-based convictions that influence their worldview, and they are often on the front lines of pushing back against LGBT activism.
Put another way, Trump’s opposition to LGBT activism does not appear to spring from a biblical worldview as much as from a desire to support evangelical causes and protect religious liberties. And his policies certainly do not spring from personal animosity towards LGBT individuals.
Consequently, Trump has no problem celebrating LGBT pride in a tweet while at the same time opposing the so-called Equality Bill.
Brown said that he would much rather that Trump not “muddy the waters with what appears to be a mixed message,” but assured his readers that “when the dust settles,” Trump “has done far more to oppose LGBT activism than to support it, as Signorile and his colleagues know all too well.”
Given that hundreds of Religious Right leaders had spent the week rallying their supporters to pray for Trump on Monday, it’s not surprising that most of them appeared to essentially ignore Trump’s end-of-week Pride tweet. But Brown isn’t the only one weighing in.
On Monday, the American Family Association distributed a scolding press release, albeit one that managed to work in Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act:
“Homosexuality is not something the president should celebrate,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “It’s unnatural, unhealthy and immoral behavior. We hope he will continue to stand firm against the so-called Equality Act (H.R. 5) and any legislation that threatens religious freedom. Such legislation will use the full force of the federal government to punish Americans who don’t embrace the LGBT political agenda.”