What 'The Gays' Think About Donald Trump

June 17th 2016

On Wednesday, Donald Trump implored a crowd of supporters in Atlanta to "ask the gays" which presidential candidate would be a better friend to the LGBT community: Hillary Clinton or himself?

ATTN: did just that.

We asked LGBT individuals and leaders what they made of Trump's recent outreach efforts and whether they felt the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would, as he's suggested, do more to protect them from people who "threaten your freedoms and beliefs."

By and large, LGBT voters have aligned with the Democratic party — 63 percent of LGBT voters lean Democrat, compared to 21 percent who lean Republican, according to a 2014 Gallup Poll — and Trump's attempt to win those voters over has resulted mostly in ridicule.

"I think like so much of what Mr. Trump says, it's not accurate [that the LGBT community supports him] and it borders on the preposterous," John Heilman, the Mayor Pro Tempore of West Hollywood, told ATTN:. "It's like his claim that Latinos love him even though he is viewed unfavorably by such a high percentage of Latino voters."

Heilman points out that LGBT voters tend to sway Democrat "because there's been a long history of the Republican party opposing hate crime legislation, opposing equal employment opportunity legislation, opposing marriage equality."

"So most LGBT people who have been paying attention are not going to ally themselves with the Republican party and certainly not with Donald Trump. His message is not one of inclusion. His message is one of division and stereotyping."

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights organization, agrees. In a statement emailed to ATTN:, HRC Communications Director Jay Brown said that Trump "is no friend of the LGBTQ community," noting that the candidate has "vowed to roll back marriage equality, pass Kim Davis-style discrimination, and allow governors from coast to coast to pass laws like North Carolina's HB2."

"Trump's rhetoric today isn't fooling anyone and what he is peddling isn’t protection," Brown said. "It’s poison."

"A Trump presidency would allow for the institutionalization and legitimization of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments," Chris Chehade, an international relations student at NYU, told ATTN:. "Trump has consistently condoned the violence that his supporters commit against minorities and people who think outside of the white heteronormative mindset. So why would Trump be any different in allowing LGBTQ+ hate to spread rapidly around the country?"

Trump's LGBT support is very rare, but not non-existent.

Trump > Hillary pic.twitter.com/GHNtMqtjuH

— Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) May 21, 2016

“I think particularly in the wake of what happened in Orlando on Sunday, the choice could not be more stark or more clear,” Chris Barron, a strategist and prominent gay conservative who is mobilizing LGBT voters to support Trump, told ATTN:. “We've got two candidates running for president, one of whom recognizes that there is an existential threat to LGBT folks, not just here in America, but globally.”

Barron added that Trump’s public statements about fighting terrorism, and his proposal to ban Muslim immigration, made him better suited to protect the LGBT community than Clinton, who he deems too soft on issues of national security.

“Radical Islam is dedicated to the extermination of LGBT folks, and Donald Trump gave what I thought was one of the most powerful and passionate speeches defending LGBT Americans on Monday,” Barron said.

After Sunday, every LGBT American should be for @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/EpmOQcgms6

— Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) June 14, 2016

The same sentiment has cropped up on pro-Trump LGBT Facebook pages, too.

LGBT Trump memeFacebook - facebook.com

Prominent gay Republican groups have voiced cautious support for the candidate so far, but have yet to throw their full weight behind his campaign.

"Have we ever had a Republican nominee for president who used the phrase, 'LGBT community,' let alone used a major policy address as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the country's LGBT community? I don't think so," said Gregory Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest pro-LGBT Republican organization, in a forwarded statement to ATTN:. "Everything Trump has done and said in regard to the LGBT community, even before he ran for president, has indicated that he would do no harm if not be an ally."

Yet, concerns about Trump's potential to roll back LGBT victories loom large. In February, Trump said that if elected, he "would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things," in reference to same-sex marriage — a stance Angelo described as "deeply troubling."

donald-trumpAP/Chris O’Meara - apimages.com

Trump said he would "strongly consider" appointing a Supreme Court judge who could overrule the court's landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage; one of the candidate’s Supreme Court judge picks, federal appeals court judge William Pryor, said that legalizing gay sex could “lead down a dark path to legalizing bestiality and necrophilia,” the Daily Beast noted.

Trump's attempt to court LGBT voters is significant for a couple of reasons.

This week marked a rare political moment in which the likely Republican nominee — whose party’s official platform is anti-same-sex marriage — explicitly appealed to the LGBT community for support. But it shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise with Trump, who has faced declining support in the polls at a time when a national conversation around LGBT rights has divided the nation.

It also comes at a time when courting the nation’s LGBT voters could be a critical move in the lead up to the November election.

According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, five states — Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and North Carolina — have larger reported LGBT populations than the margin of victory in the 2012 presidential election. In that election, Barack Obama, secured the vote in four of those states.

“In other words, on strictly a headcount basis,” the Journal reported, “the LGBT vote could matter very much in November."

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