Trump presidency could hurt LGBTQ+ rights

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Trump presidency could hurt LGBTQ+ rights

Raka Sarkar | Staff Illustrator

Raka Sarkar | Staff Illustrator

Raka Sarkar | Staff Illustrator

Raka Sarkar | Staff Illustrator

By Maggie Koontz | For The Pitt News

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About six years ago, I began to identify privately as bisexual.

I kept the revelation to myself because I’m from Kentucky, a state known for being quite conservative. And, as a Catholic, I constantly heard that I was going to hell for being attracted to the same gender.

Since Donald Trump was announced as the president-elect, reports about hate crimes against marginalized groups — including members of the LGBTQ+ community — have increased.

I feel lucky that I appear straight because I am dating a boy. It is safer to be straight. But if my significant other was a girl, I would want to feel pride in dating her instead of hiding it from the community in fear.

When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was a right­­­­­­­ last year, I was thrilled at the progress that our nation was making.

When Trump was officially announced president-elect, all of that optimism faded away as I realized that the rights we fought for could all be single-handedly reversed under his policies. Although Trump has switched his positions on LGBTQ+ rights throughout his campaign, his support for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and the extreme views of Vice President-elect Mike Pence could jeopardize the safety and well-being of my community.

During a speech to the Republican National Convention, Trump stated that he would protect the LGBTQ+ community despite making contradictory comments earlier on in the election.

As president, I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ+ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” Trump said during his speech.

In the past, Trump has suggested he would appoint conservative Supreme Court judges that would overturn the decision that eliminated state bans on same-sex marriage. Even if he doesn’t necessarily follow through with these plans, he has immense pressure to do so by Republicans and evangelical voters. He’s stated numerous times that there should not be a nationwide ruling and that the decision to allow same-sex marriage should be left to the states.

Additionally, Trump has said he does not support the Equality Act of 2015, a bill proposed that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibit discrimination of a person based on their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

In fact, Trump supports the First Amendment Defense Act which would allow citizens to discriminate against people of the LGBTQ+ community by refusing service on the grounds of religious beliefs. This would replace President Barack Obama’s executive order from 2014 that prevents federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it,” Trump said in September 2016. Now that Congress is controlled by the Republicans, there is a strong possibility that this could be signed into law. Signing this act would not protect the LGBTQ+ community and would deny services to them on the basis of religion. Trump’s words are a paradox to his potential actions which are frightening to those in the LGBTQ+ category such as myself.

Trump has also shifted back and forth on his views regarding the issue of transgender people being able to use the bathroom of their choice. In April 2016, he said that transgender people should use whichever bathroom they feel is appropriate and also remarked that Caitlyn Jenner would be allowed to use whichever bathroom she wanted at Trump Tower.

However, Trump has defended North Carolina’s HB2 by saying that the states should be allowed to decide on this issue themselves. HB2 would require people to use the bathroom that matches with their sex at birth. This would prohibit the freedom of choosing a bathroom that a transgender person feels would be appropriate for them.

Recently, Pence has taken control of Trump’s transition team. He has confirmed that Obama’s transgender bathroom policy will be eliminated as well as the birth control mandate which dictates that health insurance must cover some contraceptive costs.

Pence is extremely conservative and is anti-LGBTQ+ mostly because of his faith, stating that he believes marriage is between a man and woman. Pence has said that he is “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He has repeatedly used his religion to try to create new laws and abolish others which completely disregards the separation of church and state.

In 2013, he signed a law in Indiana that would jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license as well as clerks that approved their request or clergy members that wed the couple.

Pence believes that being gay is a choice and that sexuality can be changed through so-called conversion therapy. He has supported institutions that help people who want to change their sexuality as a means for “curing” those with the “incorrect” sexuality.

Pence’s propositions for the discrimination and suppression of the LGBTQ+ community should not be based on religion, yet they are. Trump has contradicted himself many times regarding his stance on LGBTQ+ issues, leaving much uncertainty for the future of LGBTQ+ rights. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, I do not know what to take as the truth and I do not know if I can proudly be bisexual in the future without repercussion.

I know if Kentucky had the option, there would be a ban on same-sex marriage as well as opportunity for citizens to discriminate against those in the LGBTQ+ community, based on religious beliefs.

I came out to the world in October on National Coming Out Day. I thought that the nation was going to be led by someone more open-minded, but it does not look like that is going to happen. Instead, I am worried that I am going to have to stifle my sexuality and put my pride flag in a drawer.

I do not want to hide for fear of discrimination based on my sexual orientation. I want to live openly, but I am afraid of what the future holds for me and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.

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