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Friday, November 25, 2016

Rainbow Flag in Dire Distress

Written by  David Placher

The American flag is displayed with the union down as a signal of dire distress in the instances of extreme danger to life or property.  The Rainbow flag, commonly referred to as the gay pride flag, is a symbol of gay pride and rights.  As of November 8, 2016, it should be displayed with the top red stripe pointing down as a symbol of LGBT distress because President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pence and their team have positions on issues that are unfavorable to the LGBT community.  Although Trump has delivered mixed statements--some favorable, some not--about the LGBT community over the years, his entourage of surrogates are hostile to the LGBT community and all will be in positions to influence public policy.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, self-described Christian, conservative and Republican, in that order, has targeted the LGBT community for years.  He believes being gay is a choice.  Most recently, while governor of Indiana, he enacted a religious freedom law that allows businesses to discriminate against them.  Pence eventually signed an amendment to the religious freedom law, but it was only after Indiana faced backlash from the business community.  In 2006, Pence unleashed an attack against gay marriage by stating, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advert of the deterioration of marriage and family.”  Pence has yet to admit publicly he was wrong because society has not collapsed.   Pence has also said that preventing gays from marriage is not discrimination because gay marriage is not “God’s idea.”   Furthermore, while in Congress, he opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and he opposed a law that would prohibit discrimination against the LGBT people in the workplace.  Most recently, he rejected the Obama administration directive on transgender bathrooms.

Newt Gingrich, a strong supporter of Trump, also does not have favorable views of LGBT rights.  Although his half-sister, Candace Gingrich is a lesbian and LGBT rights advocate, Gingrich does not support gay marriage and would support a Supreme Court decision that overturns its previous favorable ruling on gay marriage.   In September, when Gingrich delivered a speech at the annual conference of the Log Cabin Republicans, his speech was not about LGBT rights, but about how the LGBT community would be safer under a Trump presidency because, “If our enemies had their ways, gays, lesbians, and transgender citizens would be put to death, as they are today in the Islamic State and Iran.”   Gingrich’s fearmongering rhetoric and silence on LGBT rights implies that Trump will protect the LGBT community from physical harm, a task he would have to undertake regardless, but not necessarily LGBT rights.

Ben Carson, an advocate for Trump, has stated--repeatedly—that he does not believe marriage equality is a civil right and that Congress should impeach and remove judges that ruled in its favor.   He also believes that businesses should have the right to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.   He believes that being gay is a choice, so he does not have any issues with conversion therapy.  He is against gay adoption.

Finally, Trump is the biggest problem facing the LGBT community.  Although Trump has stated he would protect LGBT citizens, it is unclear what that protection really means.   With Trump’s political team’s hostile views towards gays, Trump could (be advised or without advisement) take action within his first 100 days that would hurt the LGBT community.  Trump can cancel President Obama’s executive actions that provide protection to the LGBT community.  Such as this spring’s memos from the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services, which clarified that gender identity is a protected class in terms of health care coverage and equal access to education facilities.  Trump has also promised to appoint a conservative Supreme Court Justice that could overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.    With the 2016 presidential election over, the intended and unintended consequences that the LGBT community will face for the next four years and beyond, will set the LGBT movement back.  I encourage LGBT citizens to hang their gay pride flags upside down with the red strip toward the ground to protest the positions of the Trump-Pence team.

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