President Donald Trump said he would vote for a gay presidential candidate, responding to a question about the success of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
In an interview on Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s podcast the president said he thinks Americans could one day elect a gay person to the White House.
“I think so. I think there would be some that wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t be among that group, to be honest with you,” Trump said, according to Politico.
“I think that, yes, I think that it doesn’t seem to be hurting Pete Boot-edge-edge as you say, as you would call him,” he said, noting Buttigieg’s first-place finish in the Iowa caucus and his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. “It doesn’t seem to be hurting him very much but … there would be a group that probably wouldn’t. But you or I wouldn’t be in that group.”
Trump previously called Buttigieg’s historic bid for the Democratic nomination a “sign of great progress” in an interview with Fox News earlier this year.
The president’s relationship with the LGBTQ community is mixed. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump sought to position himself as a stronger ally to the community than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, particularly touting his opposition to unfettered immigration and radical Islam as essential to protecting LGBTQ people in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre. He claimed he supported same-sex marriage and didn’t mind which restroom transgender people used.
Yet in office, critics note many of Trump’s policies have been interpreted as explicitly anti-LGBTQ. Trump has embraced the idea of religious exemptions for health care workers, child placement agencies, federal contractors, and others who oppose same-sex marriage, homosexuality, or transgenderism.
The Department of Education, led by his hand-picked Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has revoked protections for transgender students in schools, decided not to hear complaints from transgender students that involve allegations of discrimination regarding which facilities they may use, and supported giving taxpayer money to private schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and staff.
Trump has also nominated a significant number of judges with anti-LGBTQ records who were eventually confirmed to the federal bench.
But defenders of the president argue that he has never wavered in his support of marriage equality, and point to his appointment of openly gay individuals, like U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, as well as his administration’s recently launched initiative to urge nearly 70 countries throughout the world to eliminate any laws criminalizing homosexuality, to show that he is supportive of the LGBTQ community.
Most recently, LGBTQ advocates criticized Trump for awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the country’s highest civilian honor — to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, known for a history of racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ remarks.
Shortly after receiving the award, Limbaugh unleashed a rant in which he mocked Buttigieg’s sexuality and masculinity, adding: “America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president.”
Trump has not weighed in on Limbaugh’s remarks, aside from the disagreement implicit in his remarks on the electability of a gay president.
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