Last night Donald Trump gave an acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that was riddled with false claims and designed to scare people into voting for him — in other words, it was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from him. His hysterical statistics about crime, job loss, and trade were all par for the course, but about two-thirds of the way into his speech, he threw in one unexpected sound-bite: a perceived message of support for the LGBTQ community.
“Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist,” he said, choosing to ignore the fact that the shooter’s ties to ISIS were tenuous at best. He went on, “This time, the terrorist targeted the LGBTQ community. No good. And we’re going to stop it. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me!”
When his remarks drew loud cheers from the audience, he added, “And I have to say as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.” It’s true: this sort of response from delegates at the RNC would’ve been unthinkable even four years ago, and it’s evidence of the growing faction of Republicans that support LGBTQ equality. But although it’s tempting to see Trump’s words as a hallmark of progress, when compared to his party’s openly anti-gay platform, they ring hollow.
As has been widely reported, this year’s official Republican party platform supports the dangerous practice of gay conversion therapy — specifically, it says that Republicans “Support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.” It also condemns “redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories” and calls for the overturning of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states:
Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in this platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.
Interestingly, though, Trump’s defense of the LGBTQ community doesn’t address the issues mentioned in his platform — in fact, it skates over anti-LGBTQ domestic policy altogether. Far from defending the rights of LGBTQ Americans, Trump merely stated the obvious: that gay people do not deserve to be gunned down by terrorists. But if they try to reverse the homophobic legislation put in place by, say, Trump’s vice-presidential pick, they seem to be on their own.