Donald Trump's stance on LGBTQ rights has been a bit confusing. But no matter how you slice it, there are numerous times when Trump swore he'd protect LGBTQ rights — promises that, like so many others, he seems to be conveniently forgetting now in light of his ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.
During the campaign, Trump positioned himself as a slightly more liberal Republican candidate when it came to LGBTQ rights. He claimed to support same-sex marriage sometimes, and other times he said that it should have been left up to the states. He declined to comment decisively on North Carolina's infamous bathroom bill, instead merely saying that it was a "very strong" move on the state's part. Well before his 2016 run for president, he said that he wanted gay people to have the same legal protection — and then in 2016, he told Fox News that he would consider appointing a Supreme Court Justice who didn't support same-sex marriage. And then, of course, he appointed Neil Gorsuch, who has so far made one decision indicating that he is not pro-same sex marriage.
Trump's words, as it has become abundantly clear, mean far less than his actions as president. With his proposed transgender military ban, then, he's breaking the promises he made to the LGBTQ community and going against his professed support for them.
1When He Supported Protecting Gay Rights
When Trump was toying with a run for president in 2000, he gave an interview to The Advocate in which he professed a great support for the rights of gays and lesbians — even going so far as to say that he supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights act to include a provision banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
"Amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair," Trump said in the interview.
2When He Said There's "No Reason" Gay People Can't Serve In The Military
In the same interview, he expressed support for gay men serving in the armed forces, although he didn't say anything about transgender service members specifically. "If a gay person can be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or take another position of responsibility, why can't they serve this country in the military?" he said. "Gay people serve effectively in the military in a number of European countries. There is no reason why they can’t serve in the United States."
3When He Insisted "There Can Be No Discrimination" Against Gay People
In 2011, Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that "there can be no discrimination against gays." This is when he was mulling a 2012 campaign for presidency as a Republican, so this would have been the basis of his official opinion as a Republican candidate.
4When He Called For More Protections For LGBTQ People After The Orlando Shooting
When Trump gave a speech in response to the tragic shooting in Orlando at a gay nightclub, he promised to protect LGBTQ Americans, saying that "America must do more — much more — to protect its citizens, especially people who are potential victims of crimes based on their backgrounds or sexual orientation."
As you might have gathered, though, he was using his professed support of the LGBTQ community in order to call for a Muslim ban, because the shooter in Orlando was a Muslim who targeted a gay club.
5When He Called Himself A "Real Friend"
In another part of his response to the Orlando shooting, he positioned himself against Hillary Clinton as a "real friend" of the gay and lesbian community. Clinton, he claimed, could not really call herself a supporter of LGBT rights as long as she also "[supported] immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists into our country and who suppress women, gays and anyone else who doesn't share their views or values."
6When He Vowed To "Fight For" The LGBT Community
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
This tweet also came only days after the Orlando shooting, but it's a much more clearly worded declaration about his intention to fight for LGBTQ rights, albeit one that he used to attack his election opponent, Hillary Clinton.
7When He Promised To "Protect Our LGBTQ Citizens" At The RNC
Trump brought up LGBT rights again at the Republican National Convention, although it was in the same vein — expressing support for LGBT Americans in order to support his proposed Muslim ban. "As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," he said in his speech.
Some people listening cheered for this line, which he thanked them for — which some took as a sign that he was going to be more progressive than his party tends to be as concerns LGBTQ rights.
8When He Gleefully Held Up The Pride Flag At A Rally
During a rally in Colorado in October 2016, Trump was given a rainbow flag reading "LGBTs for Trump", which he then held up onstage. While he really only used it as a visual and didn't say anything about the LGBTQ community in his speech, it's a symbolic flag, and his choice to display it that way was also symbolic. From what he's done so far, though, it's clear that he really was only using it as a visual, and he didn't really intend to fight for LGBTQ rights at all.
Despite these promises, Trump's record speaks loudly against him when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Vice President Mike Pence has an extremely anti-gay record, Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is no supporter of LGBTQ rights, and the idea of protecting transgender Americans seems to be a thing of the past. The list of promises Trump seems to have forgotten is just getting longer.