You, My Friends, Voted for Trump

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I’ve had numerous friends come up to me over the past few months to sort of “apologize in advance” for casting their vote for Trump. Most say something along the lines of, “I have nothing against you or other LGBTQ people, I just agree more with Trump’s economic policies than I do with Hillary’s…etc.” Those apologies seemed to me like my friends were trying to absolve themselves of any guilt they had, because they realized they were voting for a candidate who wants to violate the basic rights of marginalized groups — including a group that I, their LGBTQ friend, just so happen to be a member of.

“That’s fine,” I told them, with a fake smile, “Don’t worry about it.” I respected their opinions and I appreciated their willingness to apologize, but seriously, at a certain point, “sorry” is never enough.

On the bright side, one benefit that has come from this election is that I’m no longer afraid to be myself anymore. I can’t advocate for myself and the LGBTQ community as a whole if I’m hiding in a closet. I am gay, whether you, as a Trump supporter, like it or not. I refuse to remain silent about political matters that affect my rights and my LGBTQ friends’ rights as citizens of this country.

If you are friends of mine who voted for Trump and you have any sort of knowledge about politics, you voted knowing quite well that LGBTQ discrimination would be inevitable under this new administration. That really hurts me. Politics should not divide friendships, but there comes a point where enough is enough. Just take a second to place yourself in my shoes — how would you feel if I voted for a candidate whose policies and cabinet members had the means to discriminate against you?

Am I crazy in thinking that the social rights of your friends should be valued well above whatever economic values you hold? I hope not. This is America. Everyone is entitled to vote how they choose to vote, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. That is what makes our democracy so great. But a vote for Trump is a vote that may very well lead to personal discrimination against myself and many of my friends in the LGBTQ community. I can no longer sit silently and pretend that your support for a candidate did not deeply bother me. A vote for Trump was a vote against my personal rights.

When someone tells me that they voted for Trump over Hillary because of “economic policy” or because they would rather “vote for anyone but Hillary,” what they’re really telling me is that they care little-to-none about my personal rights as a member of the LGBTQ community. If you consider yourself my friend, shame on you for looking me in the eyes and apologizing for casting a vote that would directly harm me; your apology is meaningless to me.

You, my friends, voted for a president who has agreed to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which, if passed, “prohibits the federal government from taking ‘discriminatory action,’ such as denying a federal grant or contract, against anyone whose behavior is dictated by a religious opposition to same-sex relationships or extramarital and premarital sex.”[1] This act would allow individuals and businesses to freely discriminate the LGBTQ community without governmental repercussions, in the name of “religious freedom.” Further discrimination allowed under the act includes giving hospitals the ability to refuse treatment of LGBTQ individuals if the hospital staff members feel that the LGBTQ lifestyle violates their religious beliefs.[2]

You, my friends, voted for a president whose Supreme Court nominee shortlist included former Attorney General of Alabama William Pryor, who compared consensual homosexual sex to prostitution, incest, and pedophilia, among other outlandish comparisons and argued in favor of a Texas law that criminalized homosexual sex, but said that anal sex between heterosexuals is okay:[3]

Texas is hardly alone in concluding that homosexual sodomy may have severe physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences, which do not necessarily attend heterosexual sodomy, and from which Texas’s citizens need to be protected.[4]

You, my friends, voted for a president whose VP has stood in notorious opposition to the LGBTQ community both vocally and through legislation he has supported and passed while Governor of Indiana.

In a 2010 interview with CNN, Vice President Pence voiced his support for one of the most unpatriotic and blatantly discriminatory policies of our country’s history: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, (DADT) “the longtime military policy of not letting soldiers openly identify as gay.”[5] When asked about his thoughts on DADT possibly being repealed, Pence told CNN that “he did not want to see the military become, ‘a backdrop for social experimentation.’”[6]

Pence voted against a law in 2007 that would grant LGBTQ individuals protections from discrimination in the workplace, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. His reason for opposing the legislation was that it “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace.”[7]

In an archived version of his 2000 congressional campaign website, under the heading “Strengthening the American Family,” Pence criticized the Ryan White Care Act — a program that allocates federal funding to HIV/AIDS research. Pence suggested that funds from the program be diverted elsewhere, saying, “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”[8] There was also an H.I.V. breakout in Scott County, Indiana in early 2015 while Pence was governor. The breakout may have been prevented had there been an established needle exchange program in the state, but Pence was “morally opposed to needle exchanges on the grounds that they supported drug abuse.”[9]

Furthermore, in a 2006 speech Pence made to Congress where he defended marriage exclusively between a man and a woman, he said, “Societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” and that being gay is a choice.[10]

Really? He thinks being gay is a choice? So I just woke up one day and thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to make my life a lot harder and identify with a group of people who a significant portion of this country feel should not have equal rights!” Yup, that’s exactly what happened to me, Pence!

This election season was not tough for me because of arguments I’ve had with my friends and family. I can hold my ground quite well in arguments. But it has been tough for me knowing many people I love, people who say they love me back, seemed to leave that love behind on November 8th. They forgot that their vote for Trump and Pence could have a potentially detrimental effect on my social rights as a gay man living in the United States. Or worse, they didn’t care.

Dear friends, political beliefs aside, I still love you all. But I ask and I beg you to please keep in mind that your vote does not just affect you. Your vote can shape the lives of those closest to you, whether you realize it or not.

Sources

[1] Milligan, Susan. “Gay Rights Activists Face New Hurdles.” U.S. News. January 23, 2017. Accessed February 27, 2017. https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-01-23/gay-rights-activists-face-new-hurdles.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Mortimer, Caroline. “Donald Trump’s potential Supreme Court judge pick thinks gay people should be jailed for having sex.” The Independent. November 17, 2016. Accessed February 27, 2017.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Drabold, Will. “Mike Pence: What He’s Said on LGBT Issues Over the Years.” Time. July 15, 2016. Accessed February 27, 2017.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “The Pence Agenda for the 107th Congress: A Guide to Renewing the American Dream.” Mike Pence for Congress. Accessed April 13, 2017. http://web.archive.org/web/20010519165033fw_/http://cybertext.net/pence/issues.html.
[9] Twohey, Megan. “Mike Pence’s Response to H.I.V. Outbreak: Prayer, Then a Change of Heart.” The New York Times. August 07, 2016. Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/us/politics/mike-pence-needle-exchanges-indiana.html.
[10] Drabold, Will. “Mike Pence: What He’s Said on LGBT Issues Over the Years.” Time. July 15, 2016. Accessed February 27, 2017.

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