By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.
“Give him a chance,” has been the Trump transition team’s refrain since November. In my grief and despair over the election results, I would like to, to hope for even a moment that life for LGBT Americans will be OK.
More recently, I’ve heard people and places whose opinions and wisdom I respect, say “we’re all on the same team;” that “we need to come together;” and “his success is our success.” I want to embrace that too. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
But I simply cannot do either.
I cannot be silent or complacent in the face of an unqualified petulant President, his ultra-conservative administration with its homophobic and racist “values,” and an unchecked republican controlled Congress. The LGBT Community may well be facing the greatest threat to America’s founding principles of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” in our history. So the question becomes, can any of us afford to be silent or complacent now?
How can we possibly “give him a chance” or “come together” when Donald Trump has made no effort to earn our trust, his “chance”, or meet us half way? In fact, everything he has done since being elected has only increased the fear and anxiety of anyone who didn’t vote for him.
Trump’s first appointment was Steve Bannon as “Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.” Bannon ran Breitbart News, which he calls a platform for Alt-Right, the far right, anti-Semitic, homophobic, white nationalist movement. Bloomberg News has described Steve Bannon as, “the most dangerous political operative in America,” and he now sits at the right hand of the most powerful man in the world.
Last week Trump’s cabinet nominees began their confirmation hearings and when questioned about LGBTs and their civil rights:
Secretary of Defense Nominee, James Mattis, flat-out dodged three direct questions about homosexuals serving openly and “undermining” the military despite his previous statements that they would.
CIA Director Nominee Mike Pompeo “can’t imagine putting in place any policy that was discriminatory with respect to any employee;” but he will be serving in reality (not imagination) where his voting and opposition to gay rights and same sex marriage is public record.
HUD Nominee Dr. Ben Carson, who apparently thinks equal and extra are synonymous, said “no one gets ‘extra rights’. ‘Extra rights’ means that you get to redefine everything for everybody else.” (There are still 29 states where you can be denied housing for being gay.)
Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson when asked “Are gay rights human rights?” only shrugged.
Finally, Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions said, “he would follow the rulings of the Supreme Court,” in spite of saying in 2015, the SCOTUS ruling in favor of marriage equality “goes beyond what I consider to be the realm of reality” and voting against the Matthew Sheppard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
None of these men is going to be on our side, stand up for us, or be our advocate. They’ll dodge, imagine, and/or shrug us off until such time as the new more conservative Court starts ruling against our civil liberties. What’s more people like Sen Ted Cruz and Vice-president elect Mike Pence are eager to pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would essentially make it a “right” to discriminate against LGBTs.
Give them a chance? Not a chance in Hell!
They are a real and dangerous threat to our lives, families, and Community. Therefore, we must gear up now for the monumental fight that surely lies ahead.
We can’t just be connected; we must be engaged!
We can’t just tweet about it; we must show up for it!
And we can’t forget; we are here today because in 1969 one of us stood up and said, “Enough!”