December 6, 2023 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Trump’s cabinet almost uniformly hostile toward LGBT rights

Mike Pence (L) is America's most prominent enemy of LGBT people. Kellyanne Conway (R) rose to power as a spokesperson for the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Together they have chosen Donald Trump's ideologically antigay cabinet.
Mike Pence (L) is America’s most prominent enemy of LGBT people. Kellyanne Conway (R) rose to power as a spokesperson for the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. Together they have chosen Donald Trump’s ideologically antigay cabinet.

BY TROY MASTERS  |  President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to nullify all of President Barack Obama’s executive orders, including many pro-LGBT directives that, among other things bans anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors and others that protect the rights of transgender people, has chosen cabinet members to do just that.

With almost every selection, the person chosen has explicit opposition to the protections the agency they lead offers LGBT people; in many cases the person chosen has voiced outright opposition to the entire mission of the agency.

Each will be in a position to reshape policies that currently benefit LGBT people.

Mike Pence, one of America’s chief opponents of LGBT rights has directed the recruitment effort to staff Trump’s cabinet.  Pence worked alongside Kellyanne Conway, the former spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage, a group that fought same-sex marriage on a state by state basis.

Here are the current cabinet picks, their responsibilities and an encapsulation of their records on LGBT rights.

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS  |  Secretary of Defense (click on link for article about General Mattis)

Reince Priebus, architect of US history's most antigay political party platform.
Reince Priebus, architect of US history’s most antigay political party platform.

REINCE PRIEBUS  |  White House Chief of Staff 
The chief of staff manages the work and personnel of the West Wing, steering the president’s agenda and tending to important relationships. The role will take on outsize importance in a White House run by Mr. Trump, who has no experience in policy making and little in the way of connections to critical players in Washington.

Reince Priebus Mr. Trump announced on Nov. 13 he had chosen Mr. Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

As chairman of the Republican Party, Preibus spearheaded one of the most anti-LGBT platforms to date. Among other things, the platform calls for the repeal of same-sex marriage, gives states the right to choose which bathroom transgender people use, and defends businesses who deny service to LGBT Americans based on their religious beliefs. 

JEFF SESSIONS is the U.S. Senate's most antigay member.
JEFF SESSIONS is the U.S. Senate’s most antigay member.

JEFF SESSIONS  |  Attorney General (Requires Senate confirmation)
The nation’s top law enforcement official will have the authority for carrying out Mr. Trump’s “law and order” platform. The nominee can change how civil rights laws are enforced.

Trump has selected Senator Sessions, of Alabama, as his nominee. Mr. Sessions is a strong proponent of strict immigration enforcement, reduced spending and tough-on-crime measures. His nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986 was rejected because of racist comments and actions, which are very likely to become an issue as he faces another set of Senate confirmation hearings.

You can pick almost any LGBT rights issue, and chances are Sessions has voted against it. He supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the definition of hate crimes; and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

He also co-sponsored a bill that would allow Alabama’s definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition, basically ending same-sex marriage in the state. And he’s co-sponsoring the First Amendment Defense Act, which would let government-funded organizations ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs. His score with the Human Rights Campaign is a big, fat zero.  His candidacy was strongly urged by the Family Research Council and other conservative, antigay groups.

MIKE POMPEO opposed every aspect of LGBT civil rights during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.
MIKE POMPEO opposed every aspect of LGBT civil rights during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives.

MIKE POMPEO  |  C.I.A. Director (Requires Senate confirmation)
Mr. Trump takes over at a time of diverse and complex threats to American security. The new C.I.A. director will have to decide whether to undo a C.I.A. “modernization” plan put in place this year by Director John O. Brennan, and how to proceed if the president-elect orders a resumption of inhumane interrogation tactics

Trump has selected Mr. Pompeo, Representative of Kansas and a former Army officer as his nominee. Mr. Pompeo is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and was a sharp critic of Hillary Clinton during the congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Popeo has a zero rating with the Human Rights Campaign, having opposed every aspect of LGBT civil rights.  While serving in congress, Pompeo voted to protect anti-same-sex marriage opinions as free speech and also supported a bill saying a state’s definition of marriage should supersede the federal one. And during a 2014 interview with a Kansas State University radio station, Pompeo elaborated on his opinion of same-sex marriage. “I don’t agree with [same-sex marriage],” he said. “I think marriage ought to continue to be between one man and one woman.” He went on, “I think as you look back at civilization, look back at history, you find the strength of these families having a father and a mother is the ideal condition for childbearing. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great families with single parents, great young men and women raised without either parent. If you’re asking for what is ideal, I think it’s being raised by a man and a woman.”

MICHAEL T. FLYNN has opposed transgender soldiers serving openly in the military. He supports Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
MICHAEL T. FLYNN has opposed transgender soldiers serving openly in the military. He supports Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

MICHAEL T. FLYNN  |  National Security Adviser 
The national security adviser, although not a member of the cabinet, is a critical gatekeeper for policy proposals from the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies, a function that takes on more importance given Mr. Trump’s lack of experience in elective office.

Trump has selected the retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. General Flynn has been outspoken about his view of the threat posed by Islamist militancy and was an ardent supporter of Mr. Trump during the campaign.

Flynn has a “history of animus toward LGBT people.” Most recently Flynn, whom Trump has named national security adviser, went on a tirade against “political correctness” in response to the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military. 


TOM PRICE  |  Health and Human Services Secretary (Requires Senate confirmation)
The secretary will help Mr. Trump achieve one of his central campaign promises: to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The department approves new drugs, regulates the food supply, operates biomedical research, and runs Medicare and Medicaid, which insure more than 100 million people.

Trump has selected Mr. Price, a six-term Republican congressman from Georgia and orthopedic surgeon who has led opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Price has said the law interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decisions.

Price has an abysmal record. In 2006, he voted for a U.S. constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage throughout the country. Price also voted against hate crimes protections legislation, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

In the 114th Congress, he wasn’t a co-sponsor of comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination legislation known as the Equality Act and along with every other Republican wasn’t a co-sponsor of the Consumer Non-Discrimination Act, which would specifically bar anti-LGBT discrimination by healthcare providers.

Price generally earned a score of “0” for each term he has been in office on the Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard. The exceptions were during the 110th and 111th Congress when he earned scores of “10” for voting against a motion to recommit that would have killed hate crimes protection legislation.

In 2013, Price participated in a conference call hosted by Tea Party Unity, as Right Wing Watch reported at the time, and said a caller was “absolutely right” about the potential of negative health and fiscal impact of legislation promoting LGBT rights. The caller was Rabbi Noson Leiter, who attributed the arrival of marriage equality in New York to Hurricane Sandy.

“The consequences of activity that has been seen as outside the norm are real and must be explored completely and in their entirety prior to moving forward with any social legislation that would alter things,” Price said. “I’m always struck by people who wake up one morning and think that they’ve got a grand new way of doing something when as you all know that the tried and true traditions in history that made us great are preserved and have survived because they are effective. I hear you, medical health and costs; you talk about a huge cost-driver to state pensions and other things, many of these areas would significantly alter state balance sheets.”  — NY Magazine.

BETSY DEVOS funded Kellyanne Conway's National Organization for Marriage and other antigay initiatives nationwide.
BETSY DEVOS funded Kellyanne Conway’s National Organization for Marriage and other antigay initiatives nationwide.

BETSY DEVOS  |  Education Secretary (Requires Senate confirmation)
Mr. Trump has said he wants to drastically shrink the Education Department and shift responsibilities for curriculum research, development and educational aid to state and local governments.

Trump has selected Ms. DeVos, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and an education activist who is a passionate believer in school choice, as his nominee.

DeVos has an extensive history of antigay advocacy, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fight against gay marriage. She was a donor in several states, including California where she supported Proposition 8.  She opposes expansion of Title IX protections against discrimination of transgender people.

BEN CARSON supports the right of people to refuse service on the basis of their religious belief.
BEN CARSON supports the right of people to refuse service on the basis of their religious belief.

BEN CARSON  |  Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Requires Senate confirmation)
The secretary oversees fair-housing laws, the development of affordable housing and access to mortgage insurance. As a real-estate developer, Mr. Trump is attuned to the tax breaks for housing development.

Trump appears close to announcing that former neurosurgeon and presidential candidate to be his nominee to lead HUD. Dr. Carson has said that he does not want to work in government, and it was not clear whether he had accepted the offer.

Carson has repeatedly equated homosexuality to bestiality. He maintains that his vociferous opposition to same-sex marriage does not connote homophobia. He maintains that being gay is a choice, famously saying that  “A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” He supported Kim Davis, the Kentucky county official who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying that he supports right of elected officials to refuse to serve LGBT people. He supports the religious right of business owners to refuse service to LGBT people.

ELAINE L. CHAO has supported religious exemptions for faith-based organization, allowing them to sidestep civil rights laws for while also receiving government grants.
ELAINE L. CHAO has supported religious exemptions for faith-based organization, allowing them to sidestep civil rights laws for while also receiving government grants.

ELAINE L. CHAO  |  Transportation Secretary (Requires Senate confirmation)
The next Transportation secretary will oversee Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to increase infrastructure funding to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, airports, and transit systems.

Elaine L. Chao Mr. Trump has selected Ms. Chao, the former Labor secretary under President George W. Bush. Ms. Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been a fixture of the Republican establishment in Washington.

As Labor Secretary for Bush, she supported Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act, H.R. 1261, a bill that provided religious exemptions for faith-based organization, allowing them to sidestep civil rights laws for while also receiving  government grants.

As Bush’s labor secretary she oversaw the awarding millions of dollars in Labor Department grant money to AIDS and gay organizations nationwide.

In the 1990s while President of the United Way America she defended contributions made to an LGBT group in SF when a Christian group objected to the donation.


NIKKI R. HAELY  |  U.N. Ambassador (Requires Senate confirmation)
Second to the secretary of state, the United States ambassador to the United Nations will be the primary face of America to the world, representing the country’s interests at the Security Council on a host of issues, from Middle East peace to nuclear proliferation.

Nikki R. Haley Mr. Trump has selected Ms. Haley, the governor of South Carolina, as his nominee. The daughter of immigrants from India, she was a prominent and frequent critic of Mr. Trump early in his run.

As South Carolina Haley asked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney whether he opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples before offering her endorsement of his 2012 presidential campaign:  she explained it was her “job to uphold” her state’s constitution and defend its same-sex marriage ban.

She opposes the Obama administration’s guidance that says public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity. She told reporters earlier this year that a law like North Carolina’s House Bill 2 — which bans trans people from using public restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity and prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances — is not “necessary” in South Carolina.

Haley said in the Republican Party’s response to President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address that the GOP “would respect differences in modern families” if it were to regain the White House. She added her party would “also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.”

She refused federal funds that would have expand access to AIDS drugs for poor or uninsured patients and she rejected Obamacare.


KEN BLACKWELL  |  Domestic Transition Team Leader  

Tasked with helping shape domestic policy and staff who can implement it.

“A key player on Donald Trump’s presidential transition team is former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, who will be handling domestic issues as the team discusses the administration’s priorities for its first hundred days.

“Blackwell gained national notoriety as Ohio’s secretary of state in the lead-up to the 2004 election, when he implemented a number of creative voter suppression measures. He now works for the FRC, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as an anti-gay hate group thanks to its promotion of “discredited research and junk science” meant to “denigrate LGBT people.”

“At FRC, Blackwell has latched onto apocalyptic rhetoric about the threat of LGBT rights, saying that President Obama is emulating totalitarian regimes by “weakening the family” and “trying to marginalize the church” and even linking a mass shooting to the country’s crumbling “moral foundation” thanks to developments such as “the attack on natural marriage and the family.”

“In a 2006 newspaper interview, when he was running for governor of Ohio, Blackwell called homosexuality a sinful “lifestyle” that “can be changed,” like that of kleptomaniacs or arsonists:

“I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed,” Blackwell said in response to the question “Is homosexuality a sin, and can gays be cured?” according to published transcripts. “I think it is a transgression against God’s law, God’s will.”

He continued: “The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.”  —  Right Wing Watch


STEPHEN K. BANNON  |  White House Chief Strategist 
Stephen K. Bannon was also considered for chief of staff, but Mr. Trump instead named him chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House, saying that he and Mr. Priebus would be “working as equal partners” in the administration.

Stephen K. Bannon Also on Nov. 13, Mr. Trump announced the appointment of Mr. Bannon, a right-wing media executive and the chairman of the president-elect’s campaign. Many have denounced the move, warning that Mr. Bannon represents racist views. His views set a dangerous precedent for all minority communities.

WILBUR ROSS is known as the "king of bankruptcy" and was briefly CEO of a company that started a now defunct LGBT newspaper.
WILBUR ROSS is known as the “king of bankruptcy” and was briefly CEO of a company that started a now defunct LGBT newspaper.

WILBUR ROSS  |  Commerce Secretary (Requires Senate confirmation)
The Commerce Department has been a perennial target for budget cuts, but the secretary oversees a diverse portfolio, including the census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Wilbur Ross Mr. Trump has selected Mr. Ross, an investor whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $2.9 billion. Mr. Ross has said the United States must free itself from the “bondage” of “bad trade agreements,” and has advocated threats to impose steep tariffs on China.

Ross briefly owned a New York City based newspaper publisher News Communications’ where he helped start many new media ventures — including The Hill, a weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C., that covers Capitol Hill news for Congressional insiders. Included among his newspaper start ups was New York Blade News, a now defunct LGBT newspaper.  The newspaper was a partner publication of the Washington Blade.

His wife at the time was Betsy McCaughey Ross, who served as New York Republican Governor George Pataki’s Lieutenant Governor.


STEVEN MNUCHIN  |  Treasury Secretary (Requires Senate confirmation)
The secretary will be responsible for government borrowing in financial markets, assisting in any rewrite of the tax code and overseeing the Internal Revenue Service. The Treasury Department also carries out or lifts financial sanctions against foreign enemies — which are key to President Obama’s Iran deal and rapprochement with Cuba.

Steven Mnuchin Mr. Trump has selected Mr. Mnuchin, who served as his campaign finance chairman. The former Goldman Sachs executive has deep roots in Hollywood and no government experience.

Munichin has record on LGBT issues


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