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Jan 11 2017
by Diana Pope

A Guide to the History of Trump's Cabinet Members with the LGBTQ Community

By Diana Pope - Jan 11 2017

Trump's new cabinet has created a large share of concerns among members and allies of the LGBTQ community in the past few months. Many of his new cabinet members have not supported the advancement of transgender rights or the legalization of same-sex marriage in their professional history. Donald Trump does not personally hold any antagonism towards the LGBTQ community; yet, he has appointed notable opponents of the LGBTQ movement to various positions in the White House. Here's a rundown by Fresh U on the stances of Trump's cabinet members on LGBTQ issues: 

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Sessions is an outspoken critic of LGBTQ rights and has frequently opposed legislation to advance the freedom of various minorities. When he campaigned as attorney general in Alabama, he tried to prevent a gay rights activist group from leading a protest at the University of Alabama. Since then, he has always openly criticized the LGBTQ rights movement. He voted against legislative measures in 2000 and 2009 to expand the definition of hate crimes against LGBTQ members and other minorities. He also opposed the Supreme Court's 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage, and said that it was an effort "to secularize, by force and intimidation." That said, in his confirmation hearing this week, he stated that "he would follow that law and the law legalizing same-sex marriage as attorney general."

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education

DeVos and her family have a long history of opposing civil rights and many LGBTQ students are concerned about Betsy Devos's position in the White House. She and her husband have donated generous funds to groups that advocate for "conversion therapy." One of these groups is "Focus on the Family," a conservative Christian group that has called the battle against gay rights a "second civil war." Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, noted that"The DeVos family has a long, well-documented history of funding organizations dedicated to undermining and restricting the rights of LGBTQ people." There is a silver lining: even though her family has donated money to anti-LGBTQ causes, she has never openly campaigned against gay rights. She even called on Dave Agema, a Michigan politician, to step down from the Republican National Convention after he made a critical comment about LGBTQ members. 

Tom Price, Secretary of Health 

Tom Price served as a state representative for Georgia and plans to introduce an agenda to repeal ObamaCare. Beyond that, he has been a sharp critic of LGBTQ rights and the 2015 Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage. After the ruling, Price supposedly said that it was “not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.” LGBTQ health advocates are worried about the new Secretary of Health and worry that Price will reverse years of reform for HIV/AIDS healthcare. 

PC: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency Director

Mike Pompeo is a Republican congressman from Kansas who will serve as the director of National Intelligence. During his time in Congress, Pompeo supported a bill proposing that the state's definition of marriage should supersede the national definition of marriage. In 2014, Kansas State Collegian interviewed Pompeo about gay rights and he stated that "marriage ought to be between a man and a woman." In addition, he adamantly disagreed with the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling on gay marriage. 

PC: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Nikki R. Haley, U.N. Ambassador

Haley is Trump's first female appointment to a cabinet-level post and is currently serving her second term as South Carolina's governor. She believes that the Republican Party should be more welcoming to minorities and has campaigned for her party to be more inclusive in the past. She shot down a bill in South Carolina that would require transgender individuals to enter bathrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate. However, she was not open to the idea of same-sex marriage in her state, and asserted that marriage should be "between man and a woman." 

PC: Nikki Haley via Flickr Creative Commons

Stephen K. Bannon, White House Chief Strategist

Bannon was previously the Chairman of the website "Breitbart News," which has been associated with the alt-right movement. In the past, Bannon used offensive slurs against LGBTQ individuals and various minorities. On his radio show, Bannon commented on gay rights and said, "Gay rights have made us dumber, it's time to get back in the closet." He also stated that students who go to women's colleges are a "bunch of dykes." 

PC: CNN via Youtube

Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff

Priebus is the longest serving chairman of the Republican National Committee and has urged Republicans to be a more inclusive party. However, Priebus has stated in the past that marriage should be between "a man and a woman." He has strongly advocated for traditional marriage and has called on his party in the past to oppose the legalization of gay marriage. 

PC: ABC News via Youtube

Overall, Trump has put forth a cabinet that may present difficulties for the LGBTQ community in the future and most of his cabinet picks will not openly support the advancement of gay and transgender rights. His picks for the White House are starkly different from Obama's appointees during his time in the White House; Trump's social agenda will probably be a sharp contrast from the previous administration. With his new cabinet, Trump's time in the White House may be harrowing for the LGBTQ movement in America. 

Lead Image Credit: Ted Eytan via Flickr Creative Commons


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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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