By Kellen Bulger
A little over a week and a half ago, President Trump spoke at an event called the “Values Voters Summit” in Washington D.C. Many outlets picked up a variety parts of the speech as the President touched on a myriad of topics including anthem protests, the Affordable Care Act repeal effort, religion, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and much more.
However, putting aside his talking points, one noteworthy aspect was the fact he was actually speaking at this summit. President Trump became the first sitting President in history to address the group of Christian-conservatives.
Many past-political figures have strayed away from the event, likely due to the nature of the group who hosts it. When one visits the Family Research Council’s website, just a couple clicks from their homepage will take you to a list of different topics and their respective stances on each given one. One worth noting is their stance on homosexuality. Per their website, “Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large.”
The 45th President’s decision to speak at an event known for its views opposing same-sex couples represents a stark shift in position from previous administrations. President Trump’s speech earlier this month is still only a little over four years removed from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage federally legal, celebrated by then President Obama lighting up the White House in the symbolic rainbow colors and tweeting out support with “#LoveWins.”
However, throughout President Trump’s campaign there were a handful of messages that were in support of the LGBTQ community, including him holding up the rainbow flag prior to a rally at the University of Northern Colorado and a tweet in reaction to the Orlando nightclub shooting where he exclaimed that he would “…fight for you [LGBTQ individuals] while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
While President Trump gave messages of support to the LGBTQ community in his campaign, many point to the decision to speak at this recent summit, his rescindment of an Obama-era guidance that allowed students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity on the infamous North Carolina “bathroom bill,” and the people he surrounds himself with like Vice President Pence, as signals of his antiquated views on the subject.
It’s worth noting that Vice President Mike Pence is often questioned for his support of LGBTQ causes, because of an archived congressional campaign site of his. On the VP’s website for his 2000 congressional seat run, the then talk-radio show host who described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” published his views on the Ryan White Care Act, which at the time established federal funding for HIV/AIDS patients in his state of Indiana.
“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
At the time, institutions that provided sexual behavior “changes” meant electroshock therapy treatment, which is now widely disavowed by the general public.
Looking forward, many observers of the current President will be watching to see what his reaction is at the next policy measure that graces his desk in the Oval Office. Whether he will choose to take the position of support he championed during the campaign or instead one akin to his running mate’s is yet to be seen.