HRC issued the following statement after the Trump campaign announced its new leadership team will include Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, two political operatives with histories of anti-LGBTQ activism.
Bannon, who was named CEO of the Trump campaign today, launched a vile smear against transgender people during a May interview with the American Family Association while he was at the helm of Breitbart News. Bannon attacked non-discrimination protections that ensure transgender people are able to use facilities that match their gender identity, repeating the debunked claim that such protections force children to “go into a bathroom with a guy with a beard in a dress.” Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway is a former pollster for the anti-LGBTQ National Organization for Marriage and has railed against the inclusion of open LGBTQ figures in pop culture and entertainment.
“Donald Trump’s staff shakeup is a disturbing preview of what a Trump-Pence administration would look like,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Trump has stocked his inner circle with anti-equality activists who share his commitment to rolling back the rights and protections of LGBTQ Americans. His hiring decisions, including the selection of Mike Pence as his running mate, have left no doubt that Trump is the biggest threat the LGBTQ community has ever faced in a presidential election.”
In addition to slurring transgender people himself in an article, Bannon managed a news site that regularly attacks LGBTQ people. His site features Austin Ruse as a contributor. Ruse has published shameful conspiracy theories alleging Matthew Shepard’s murder was not a hate crime. Bannon also directed a movie starring Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who promoted warnings against “poll-driven morality” (as a reference to growing acceptance of LGBTQ people).
Besides her work with the National Organization for Marriage, Conway has objected to the inclusion of openly LGBTQ people in the media, saying of one television show that featured a lesbian couple that people, “…don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers.”
The new hires come days after Trump courted anti-LGBTQ activists just 10 miles from the site of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando that took the lives of 49 LGBTQ people and allies. Among the organizations attending was Liberty Counsel, which supports and defends archaic laws criminalizing LGBTQ people with harsh punishments around the world, and has condemned President Obama and the U.S. government for speaking out against such laws, saying, “America should not be trying to make that country act in an immoral way.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, became a national disgrace in 2015, for his “license to discriminate” bill that could have allowed businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people — and for subsequently defending the bill after an outcry from the business community and a majority of Hoosier voters. In a now notorious interview with ABC last year, Pence refused to answer eight separate times when asked whether businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
In recent weeks, Trump has also campaigned alongside Tony Perkins — leader of the Family Research Council, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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