Barely two weeks into his presidency, President Donald Trump has turned the world upside down. His election shook the political arena worldwide and his executive orders, including those related to border security, the Dakota Access Pipeline and travel bans seemingly targeting Muslims, have caused protests in the United States and other countries.
So it’s not weird that LGBT advocates waited anxiously for President Trump’s decisions on the gains they've made toward equality in recent years.
But contrary to what they expected, the White House said that he would continue to enforce a 2014 executive order by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, barring discrimination against LGBT people working for federal contractors.
Does this mean that we will have a more “liberal” president than we thought?
After all, Trump acknowledged support for LGBT equality and urged gay voters to cast their ballots for him — so the decision to not change the anti-discrimination policy isn't a surprise. However, those with whom he has surrounded himself suggest he’s not that “open” when it comes to that matter, equality advocates argue.
By picking Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a staunch conservative Christian, as his vice president, as well as other senior officials who oppose gay rights, Trump has sent a clear message to the community, Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign said in a written statement on HRC's website.
“Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar. LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims and women are scared today, and with good reason. Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House,” he wrote. “Donald Trump has left the key question unanswered -- will he commit to opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate?”
Trump also nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, to cover the vacant left on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Gorsuch, a conservative, has not had any cases that directly addressed LGBT rights but did write an article, in 2005, in which he mentioned the issue:
“Liberals may win a victory on gay marriage when preaching to the choir before like-minded judges in Massachusetts. But in failing to reach out and persuade the public generally, they invite exactly the sort of backlash we saw in November when gay marriage was rejected in all eleven states where it was on the ballot,” Gorsuch wrote.