He may change his mind again. After all, Donald Trump’s stances on innumerable issues have flip-flopped over the years. That’s not to say that change in position is necessarily a bad thing. Even Barack Obama, the president who has done more for the LGBTQ community than any other in U.S. history, had described his positions on LGBTQ matters as “evolving,” a change, of course, I am very grateful for. Having said that, it seems likely that Donald’s capricious and flippant language is the source of most of Trump’s flip-flopping – not a genuine “evolution” of thoughts.
I say this because by the time this article is published, who knows what other shifts in Trump’s stances may take place. Hopefully all changes will be for the good. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, there are two concerns with a Trump presidency that jump out in my mind out of the numerous others that exist – climate change and LGBTQ discrimination.
Trump has called it a hoax, called the potentially planet-saving Paris Agreement a bad deal, and vowed to revitalize the coal industry. In December, Trump met with Al Gore, perhaps the most well-known American spokesman for curbing human-caused climate change. “I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect…I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued,” said Gore.
Hopefully Trump will take a cue from Gore and his own daughter Ivanka who has made combating climate change one of her signature issues. Indeed, younger generations have more at stake than older generations when it comes to climate change, so perhaps Ivanka is the means by which the message will get through to Trump. That message is unlikely to come from Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt, a vocal climate-change denier, as head of the EPA.
Rather than espouse a list of evidences of human-caused climate change, I’d like to share my own personal revelation. Sure, I’ve believed for years that climate change existed. It’s hard not to when 99 percent of credible scientists say so. But growing up in Dallas and living the past few years in NYC, I’ve not had first-hand encounters with climate change’s more substantial effects.
That changed when I played some summer stock in 2014 in Whitefish, Montana near Glacier National Park. The stunningly breathtaking landscapes there were simply glorious. What was less appealing though were the photos on placards sprinkled throughout the grounds. They were snapshots of the park winter after winter dating back a century. The reduction in size and quantity of glaciers was staggering. In the early 1900s, there were about 150. Now there are 25, and there are predicted to be zero by the year 2030.
I hope Trump’s administration will see the value in the Paris Agreement and choose to follow through on our nation’s commitment – and not just for the sake of Glacier National Park, but for Ivanka and all of America’s future generations.
There is so much public focus on same-sex marriage, but unfortunately the more immediate and credible problem has to do with blatant discrimination. According to the FBI, the LGBTQ community is the target of more hate crimes than any other minority group in America. And according to the Anti-Violence Project, “New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer was targeted with anti-gay death threats after promoting an anti-Trump march in Queens. This is the sixth public anti-LGBTQ incident in New York City that AVP has responded to in the past several weeks. Since Oct. 30, 2016, there have been anti-LGBTQ attacks in Chelsea, Times Square, the West Village, Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem.”
If Trump is to make good on his promise to bring the country together, he needs to demonstrate his leadership immediately by recognizing and condemning these acts. He must be proactive, not reactive, to the contributions he has made to the country’s increased divisiveness.
Unfortunately, violence is not the only concern facing the LGBTQ community. Thirty-two states still do not have clear, fully-inclusive LGBTQ non-discrimination laws, resulting in discriminatory practices in the areas of employment, housing, access to public areas, federal funding, credit, education, and jury services. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would have ended these problems nationwide, but not only is it dead in the water due to Republican obstructionism in Congress, but a newly-proposed bill called the First Amendment Defense Act will do the exact opposite. This Republican-backed bill, which Trump has vowed to sign, essentially legalizes the discrimination of the LGBTQ community under the guise of religion. The implications of this are tremendous, and a huge leap backwards from the social progress made under the Obama administration.
Many pundits and Trump supporters try to reassure the LGBTQ community that Trump doesn’t have the power to take away same-sex marriage (although, these same people often seem unaware or unconcerned with the discriminatory actions I mention above). It is true that Trump said on 60 Minutes days after the election that same-sex marriage is “settled law.” It’s also true that his first appointment to the Supreme Court is replacing the anti-gay conservative Scalia, so the next full court would be on par with the previous court in terms of stance towards same-sex marriage. The problem would really only come about if Trump appoints socially conservative replacements for the liberal-leaning Ruth Bader Ginsberg (age 83) or the left-leaning swing vote that won nationwide same-sex marriage in 2015, Anthony Kennedy (age 80). Only time will tell.
Despite holding the title of the most disliked president-elect in U.S. history, it’s possible that Trump spends a fair amount of time concerning himself with being liked. Perhaps that’s why he’s willing to wage war against anyone who speaks ill of him, no matter if you’re a gold-star family or the Pope himself.
Trump thrives on being a celebrity, so this is where the American people come in. According to a Gallup poll in March, “64 percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ about global warming.” And poll after poll shows ever-increasing popular support for the LGBTQ community. If Americans can show Trump what it is they care about, then he might see these issues as a wonderful opportunity to represent the people (or at the very least garner much-needed popularity points).
With that in mind, it is up to us to continue voicing our concerns and pressure this administration to listen; to vote in local, state, national elections; to support organizations that protect the environment like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Earth Policy Institute and others; to support organizations that protect the LGBTQ community like the Human Rights Campaign, Trevor Project and Lambda Legal.
As Hillary Clinton so eloquently said, “I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us. […] Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of Local 802 staff, members or officers. Members may submit personal essays for possible publication to Allegro@Local802afm.org.