Metro Weekly

Trump to address anti-LGBTQ leaders at Faith & Freedom Coalition conference

President remains under fire for not issuing a proclamation recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month

Donald Trump – Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Just days before Washington, D.C. is set to celebrate Capital Pride festivities and host the national Equality March for Unity and Pride, President Donald Trump plans to address a conservative conference featuring a slate of anti-LGBTQ leaders in the nation’s capital.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition, a Georgia-based group that espouses traditional views on many issues, including human sexuality and marriage, confirmed via Facebook that Trump would address the organization’s “Road to Majority” conference at Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel on Thursday, June 8.

Other speakers at the conference include a host of politicians or public figures with a history of anti-LGBTQ views, including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson.

Trump addressed the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s conference last year, not making any specific anti-LGBTQ statements, but promising to support socially conservative priorities, including the appointment of a conservative Supreme Court justice, and legislation or executive orders that promote “religious liberty.”

The announcement of Trump’s attendance comes as the president is under fire, once again, from LGBTQ groups — this time, for breaking with a tradition, set by former Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, of issuing a proclamation recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, on behalf of the opposition party, issued his own statement recognizing June as Pride Month and reflecting on the progress made with respect to LGBTQ rights, particularly under the Obama administration.

GLAAD, which has frequently been critical of the president, knocked Trump for failing to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride Month despite his attempts to portray himself as an “ally” of the LBTQ community.

The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, sent our two tweets from her personal Twitter account wishing “everyone a joyful Pride” and saying she was “proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” Some Trump defenders pointed to those tweets as evidence that LGBTQ supporters have the president’s ear.

GLAAD’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded on Twitter, tweeting: “cc: @realDonaldTrump while we appreciate @IvankaTrump’s support, she’s not the one leading this country. Nothing but silence so far.”

“Every June, leaders from all walks of life recognize Pride month and stand together in support of LGBTQ people, however President Trump chose to start this Pride month with deafening silence,” added Ellis. “Even if Ivanka Trump tries to save face with LGBTQ Americans, President Trump’s negligence at the start of Pride month provided another example that this administration is no friend to the community. While the Trump Administration tries to systematically erase LGBTQ people and families from the fabric of this nation, LGBTQ Americans and allies must do what we know best this Pride month — stay visible and march for acceptance.”

David Kilmnick, the CEO of the New York-based LGBT Network, also criticized Trump, noting that the president has issued more than a dozen proclamations declaring June as “National Homeownership Month,” “National Ocean Month,” “Great Outdoors Month,” “African-American Music Appreciation Month,” and “National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.” He also pointed out that White House communications staff have not responded to media inquiries about a “Pride Month” proclamation.

“It’s shameful that the president of the United States has failed to recognize such a historically significant  time for the LGBT community,” Kilmnick said in a statement. “Millions of people across the country recognize and celebrate June as LGBT Pride Month, which is important not only to LGBT Americans, but to any American who believe in civil and human rights for all. From removing LGBT families from being counted in the next US Census to this latest action of not recognizing Pride month, the Trump administration has proven once again that they are fundamentally hostile to our existence and reject the notion for full equality.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com