Metro Weekly

Trump will be first sitting president to address anti-gay Values Voter Summit

Members of Congress and top presidential advisers will also speak at the conservative conference

President Donald Trump at CPAC 2017, Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

President Donald Trump will make history on Friday, Oct. 13 when he becomes the first sitting president to address the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Values Voter Summit.

The annual summit, hosted by the Family Research Council, brings together some of the most vocal anti-LGBTQ activists and proponents of “traditional values” to celebrate their victories and begin organizing future campaigns to promote “religious freedom.”

“Values voters have waited eight years for a leader who puts America’s mission first and respects the values that made America into a great nation,” FRC President Tony Perkins, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ statements, said in a statement. “Values voters are coming to our nation’s capital thankful to hear from a president who is fulfilling the promises that he campaigned on.

“Since the early days of the campaign, President Trump allied himself with values voters, promising to put an end to the 8 years of relentless assault on the First Amendment.”

This isn’t Trump’s first time addressing the conference: he spoke at it in 2015, during the Republican primary race, and again last year, as the Republican Party’s official nominee.

The Trump administration has earned praise from conservative voters for its recently released “religious freedom” guidance that allows employers to claim an exemption, based on personal moral or religious beliefs, to an ACA mandate requiring them to provide insurance coverage for their employees’ birth control.

The mandate became a sore point for many religious conservatives under the previous administration, who accused then-President Obama of forcing employers to violate their religious conscience.

The administration was also cheered by the Values Voter crowd for President Trump’s selection of bona fide conservatives as judicial nominees, specifically Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and the administration’s decision to reverse Obama-era guidance outlining how schools are supposed to treat transgender students according to their gender identity.

Among the scheduled speakers, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) earned criticism from liberals for deciding to speak at the conference after he was saved by a lesbian Capitol Police officer during a shooting at a congressional Republican baseball practice. Scalise was shot in the hip but survived the ordeal.

Several current or former members of Trump’s administration are also expected to speak, including Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, former adviser and executive chairman of Breitbart News Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka, a former chief strategist to the president.

“The Values Voter Summit is a convening of fringe groups united around discrimination against LGBTQ Americans and serves as a place for them to actively strategize on rolling back and erasing hard-fought LGBTQ progress,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, which has compiled a list of the 50 most anti-LGBTQ statements made at the summit over the years. “Though it is reprehensible that a sitting President would headline this gathering of hate and fear-mongering, it is no longer surprising, as President Trump continues to lead a culture war against LGBTQ Americans and other marginalized groups at every turn.”

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