The president of the Human Rights Campaign called President Donald Trump “the worst president on LGBTQ issues ever” in an interview with Hill.TV on Thursday.
Alphonso David made the comment while outlining HRC’s objections to recent actions by the Trump administration, most notably its issuance of a new proposed rule that would allow child placement agencies to refuse to place children with prospective adoptive or foster parents based on their sexual orientation, religion, or other factors, so long as the agencies cite their own religious or moral objections to the placement.
“We are living in an uncharted territory where LGBTQ people are being attacked every single day by the Trump administration and the [Department of Health and Human Services] rule is just one of many examples where the Trump administration is targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” David said, according to The Hill.
Following David’s declaration of Trump as the “worst ever,” Hill.TV co-host Saagar Enjeti, a conservative, pushed back, saying: “Donald Trump is openly pro-gay marriage. I mean, I just don’t understand; that just seems like a facile and ridiculous claim.”
But David, who has previously accused Republicans of “gaslighting” Americans when it comes to trying to cast the Trump administration as pro-LGBTQ, pushed back, pointing to other anti-LGBTQ Trump administration actions as evidence.
“Let me tell you why it’s not facile or ridiculous: Donald Trump is not attacking LGBTQ couples, he is attacking LGBTQ people for who they are. He’s attacking our identity,” David said.
He also drew a distinction from past anti-LGBTQ actions taken by the Bush administration on marriage equality, for example, and those taken by the Trump administration, which he argues are trying to “erase” LGBTQ people.
Among those actions include: the nomination and confirmation to the federal bench of a significant amount of judges with records hostile to the LGBTQ community; a Labor Department rule that would grant religious exemptions for faith-based organizations or companies with sincerely held religious beliefs that contract with the federal government; the administration’s rejection of the rationale underpinning court cases seeking to protect LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination; and a rule, recently struck down by federal courts, that seeks to allow health care workers to refuse to provide patients with treatment, care, or even referrals to others who will carry out certain procedures based on the health providers’ personal religious beliefs.
“[Trump] is taking every single executive action to remove protections that currently exist for LGBTQ people,” David told Enjeti. “It’s not only in Health and Human Services. He’s also saying at the Department of Labor, ‘If you are a federal contractor, and you do business with the federal government, you can discriminate against employees who are LGBTQ.’ How is that legitimate? How can you justify firing someone simply because they’re LGBTQ. He’s going to the core of our identity.”
In response to David’s accusations, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere issued a lengthy statement to The Hill touting pro-LGBTQ initiatives under the Trump administration, such as a global campaign urging nations that penalize homosexuality to decriminalize it.
Deere also touted the hiring and promotion of LGBTQ Republicans like U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell — one of the administration’s loudest LGBTQ cheerleaders — saying the president has “hired and promoted LGBT Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, cabinet agencies, and ambassadorships.”
“As the first U.S. President in our history to favor same-sex marriage when he was sworn in, President Trump has never considered LGBT Americans second class citizens and has opposed discrimination of any kind against them,” Deere wrote.
Regarding David’s criticism of the proposed religious exemption, a spokesperson for HHS told Hill.TV that it is “committed to fully enforcing the civil rights laws passed by Congress” and defended the rule as essential to “eliminating regulatory burden, including burden on the free exercise of religion.”