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Friday, June 09, 2017

Count Us In Memo to Donald Trump

Written by  Sage Piper

For all of you who voted for this ‘Toddler in Chief’ who think you are supporting me in my relationship ... think twice. You’ve actually given me and all who are LGBTQ the clear message that you do not respect me.

So, read a Facebook post from a close friend this week, who’s lost patience for those who continue to hold that Donald Trump, while not openly a friend to the LGBTQ community, is not a menace. As we begin to revel in Gay Pride Month and celebrate in our communities, it is vital to dispel this myth, clearly and forcefully. Vague campaign promises to protect the gay community long since cast aside, the current occupier of the Oval Office in Washington is a purveyor of anti-gay pride, progress, priorities, and policy, and its high time we organize against his administration.

Trump’s strategy is simple: erase LGBTQ people – from the dialogue, from policy, from the planet. It’s not one he will shout from the White House rooftop – but it’s deadly all the same. Beginning with his campaign and throughout the first months of his presidency, Trump’s dog whistles and racially charged, xenophobic statements and attacks on political correctness have given people a license to act on their worst instincts – their fears, their anger, their resentments, and their prejudices. The ugliness is swelling, and we will be swept up in its awesome wake. When the unwritten rules of civilized behavior and common decency unravel, our community is in jeopardy. Trump’s ascendancy has unearthed long-simmering demons of prejudices against all minority and vulnerable populations, those whose progress in the last 20 years is seen as making America “not great.” Every day, he gives anti-gay haters the license to go on the attack.

The assault against us is two pronged: the administration is working to deny our legitimacy and to cut services to our community. It started in the dawning hours of the administration – literally as Trump was being sworn in, all LGBTQ-related content from the White House website was removed. The administration has continued without a single pro-LGBT action. Instead we’ve seen a long list of moves to roll back protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming students, cut funding for HIV/AIDS research, drop out of several cases relating to LGTBQ rights, remove LGBTQ people from federal surveys, and appoint numerous personnel with vicious anti-LGBTQ records - beginning with the man who stands a heartbeat away from the presidency, homophobe Mike Pence.

In the midst of this grim scenario came last month’s devastating news: LGBTQ Americans will not be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. Instead, proposed questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity were removed last month from a released draft of the document. The Census is the data federal agencies use to make decisions about funding health care, equal employment opportunities, law enforcement, and much more. Without accurate data collection, federal agencies and researchers can’t accurately track the demographics, size, and thus the needs of our community. “If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?” asked Meghan Maury of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The deletion of LGBT Americans from the census is flying in the face of the pre-Trump tide.

In early 2016, a bipartisan group of some 80 members of Congress had lobbied us to be counted. Instead, the Trump administration has also removed LGBTQ questions from the important “National Survey of Older Americans Act” participants, which determines funding for groups that work with older LGBTQ Americans.

Now Donald Trump has refused to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month. For the past eight years, President Obama continued Bill Clinton’s White House tradition and issued annual proclamations recognizing the month of June as LGBT Pride Month. He also hosted LGBT festivities inside the White House each year. Obama’s proclamations recognized “the fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people” and affirmed too the government’s role in “working to broaden opportunity, advance equality, and level the playing field for LGBT people and communities.” There is no reception in the White House this year and no mention of Pride, although Trump did issue proclamations including “National Homeownership Month”...

Donald’s silence be damned. It’s our month. It’s our time. So, let’s sing and dance and parade and celebrate our existence and our pride to the world. But let’s also organize to fight for that existence. This includes lobbying for Congressional legislation, making our voices heard to push the administration to adopt new policies, rallying our community to vote, and serving on the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations.

We live now in a country where the social norms which help us to build a society which aspires to equality, fairness, and a common good are disintegrating before our eyes. The White House does not celebrate us. We are our own best hope.

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