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Two major LGBTQ advocacy organizations have attacked Richard Grenell, the openly gay Trump appointee who previously claimed that President Trump is “the strongest ally that gay Americans have ever had in the White House.”
Grenell, who was recently named an RNC senior advisor focusing on LGBTQ outreach, was Trump’s first openly gay appointee to an ambassadorship when he was named U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and became the first openly gay cabinet-level official when he was named acting Director of National Intelligence earlier this year.
But LGBTQ organizations have accused Grenell of “gaslighting” LGBTQ Americans in trying to get them to support Trump by claiming that the president is pro-LGBTQ.
It came after Grenell spoke at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday evening, using his slot to defend the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy and casting the president as an outsider who opposes “unlimited globalization” and cares about “the average American.” He contrasted Trump’s view of foreign policy with the more establishment view held by Joe Biden, who he called the “ultimate Washington insider.”
Despite making headlines earlier this week for his unabashed support of the president and his defense of Trump’s LGBTQ record, Grenell’s speech made no reference to defending LGBTQ rights abroad, despite having touted a Trump administration initiative aimed at encouraging close to 70 countries, where same-sex relations are punishable by prison or death, to repeal their laws criminalizing homosexuality.
At the time the initiative was announced, many critics alleged that the administration had only adopted the initiative in order to pressure allies, specifically those in Europe, to take a more oppositional stance towards Iran by highlighting the Iranian government’s human rights violations and its executions of people suspected of homosexuality.
Even more damning is that several LGBTQ rights organizations and human rights advocates recently told The Daily Beast that the campaign had achieved no significant victories, with one international expert dubbing it a “sham” consisting of “a series of self-promoting Twitter photos.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis criticized Grenell’s assertions about Trump’s “pro-gay” record.
“Leading up to the RNC, Richard Grenell engaged in desperate acts of fanfare to spread lies about the Trump Administration’s anti-LGBTQ record and tonight he did not utter a mention of LGBTQ people on the main stage,” Ellis said in a statement. “He unequivocally does not speak for the vast majority of LGBTQ Americans and allies who see through the Trump Administration’s lies about its abysmal LGBTQ record.”
Ellis added: “Though Grenell will no doubt continue to misrepresent the Trump Administration’s history in an appalling attempt to sway LGBTQ people and our allies, our community will remain vigilant and point to the truth. The facts are the facts and this administration has attacked the LGBTQ community in rhetoric and policy over 170 times, even most recently arguing to the Supreme Court in favor of allowing adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples.”
GLAAD recently aired an ad on Fox News aimed at reaching Republican viewers that highlighted the importance of the Equality Act, a sweeping bill that would ban LGBTQ discrimination in various forms, and President Trump’s opposition to it. GLAAD also released a digital ad Wednesday night that highlights the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine LGBTQ rights in the United States.
The truth about the Trump Administration's anti-LGBTQ policies. pic.twitter.com/7aJ5GIu5EE
— GLAAD (@glaad) August 26, 2020
The Human Rights Campaign accused Grenell of “gaslighting” LGBTQ Americans by attempting to cast the Trump administration as sympathetic, despite its frequent appeals to, and elevation of, anti-LGBTQ activists and the Trump-led Department of Justice’s opposition to laws or policies that expand LGBTQ rights.
“‘Gaslight Grenell’ doesn’t speak for LGBTQ people or our movement. As a gay man, ‘Gaslight Grenell’ couldn’t even say ‘gay’ or ‘LGBTQ,’ which is unsurprising, given that this administration has taken every opportunity to dehumanize LGBTQ people and undermine our basic rights,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.
“It’s also unsurprising given we have exposed Trump’s lies and Grennell’s hypocrisy in supporting him. Trump and his campaign are attempting to win our allies’ votes while ignoring our community’s voices and disregarding the dignity of our lives. LGBTQ people won’t fall for it, and neither will voters who value equality.”
David accused the Trump administration of trying to eliminate LGBTQ protections contained in the Affordable Care Act, supporting the right of businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ people, advocating for the right of businesses to fire LGBTQ workers without cause, and ignoring violence against transgender women of color — all actions that undermine Grenell’s claim that the president has “focused on the equality and dignity of every American.”
“[The Trump campaign’s] new effort targeting LGBTQ people isn’t about fighting for or earning the votes of LGBTQ people, it’s about falsely attempting to allay the fears of the Republican Wisconsin mom of an LGBTQ child, and others like her,” David added.
“Well, they won’t be fooled either and over the next 68 days, the Human Rights Campaign will remind every voter in America of the real record of this President and bring facts to counteract this campaign filled with lies, mistruths and alternative facts.”
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