April 17, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Gay conservative Peter Thiel joins Trump transition team as technology advisor

Peter Thiel speaks at the National Press Club on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
Peter Thiel speaks at the National Press Club on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

BY CHRIS JOHNSON  | Gay billionaire Peter Thiel, whose support for Donald Trump made him stand out in Silicon Valley and the LGBT community, has been named as one of 16 members committee members for the president-elect’s transition team.

The New York Times reports: “Mr. Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley investor, was offered a role on the team and is under consideration to lead it, according to one person briefed on the matter.”

The co-founder of PayPal and board member of Facebook, Thiel contributed $1.25 million to Trump late in the game when the president-elect campaign was seen as floundering. Thiel was among the speakers at the Republican National Convention and told the audience he’s “proud to be gay.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence was named as chair of the transition team. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump supporter who was running for transition for months is now designated as one of six executive committee vice chairs. Other vice chairs are Ben Carson, former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

In an interview with The New York Times, Thiel said he doesn’t expect undertaking a formal role with the Trump administration, although would like to serve as an informal adviser on tech issues.

“A page in the book of history has turned, and there is an opening to think about some of our problems from a new perspective,” Mr. Thiel said. “I’ll try to help the president in any way I can.”

The week prior to Election Day, Thiel defended his decision to support Trump. Although the president-elect had taken anti-LGBT positions over the course of his presidential campaign, Thiel insisted Trump would be “expansive” on LGBT rights.

“I do think that he represents a sea change for the Republican Party of Bush 43,” Thiel said. “Just think about the way Bush 43 was speaking negatively about gay marriage at every single campaign event in the 2004 election. It’s something where Trump has — everything he indicated is that he would be quite expansive on gay rights.”

Meanwhile, the anti-LGBT histories of other members of Trump’s transition team have led LGBT advocates to sound the alarm. Heading up domestic policy for the team is Ken Blackwell, a fellow at the anti-LGBT Family Research Council who’s said being gay is a choice and can be changed.

Also named to the Trump team’s executive committee was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who clashed with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for opposing same-sex marriage as she sought solidarity with the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub. Others are Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who each scored “0” on the Human Rights Campaign’s most congressional scorecard. The team also comprises three of Trump’s children, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

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