During last night’s disturbing conclusion to the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump gave a lengthy and dismal speech promising that he can solve each item on our nation’s laundry list of problems with only his two, very capable hands (“Believe me!”).
But one of Trump’s most outrageous comments might have slipped under the radar amidst all the doom and gloom:
Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted LGBTQ community. No good, and we’re going to stop it. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.
[Pause for cheers]
And I have to say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.
Focus on that last sentence. With this remark, Trump once again revealed his complete lack of understanding of Republicans and conservatives, a revelation that likely went unnoticed or was willfully disregarded by his supporters. Simultaneously, it laid waste to the good work being done by conservatives of good faith on policy compromises that respect both LGBT citizens’ civil rights and the conscience rights of religious citizens.
Anyone paying attention to the recent discussion would know that the Republican party is divided on the best policy approach to this issue. But never has the party or its members questioned the right to life — or the very humanity — of LGBT people in the way Trump not-so-subtly implied.
In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that one-third of Republicans support the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. That percentage shoots up to 61 among Millennial Republicans.
And while a two-thirds majority of Republicans oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in last summer’s Obergefell v. Hodges, there is absolutely no credible case to be made that Republicans as a whole have shown themselves indifferent to protecting LGBT citizens from terrorists or other physical harm.
For Trump to insert that last line is beyond demeaning to conservatives and Republicans, not to mention incredibly misleading to the rest of the country. Such a comment only reinforces the misimpression among left-leaning citizens, in particular LGBT people themselves, that Republicans couldn’t care less what happens to them. It perpetuates the myth that anyone opposed to recognizing same-sex marriage must be an irrational bigot who hates LGBT people.
This is patently false. Regardless of the debates over the recognition of same-sex marriage, or the federal transgender bathroom policy, or the civil rights of bakers and florists and photographers, any credible conservative would agree that LGBT citizens deserve the same protection — and have the same dignity — as any other human being.
For Trump to suggest otherwise proves once again how little he understands the party he claims to represent.