Political Focus: The LGBT community’s concerns about Trump

Melissa Deatsch, Political Columnist

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On Election Day, the world was shaken by a Trump victory that perhaps no one other than Trump himself saw coming. The outcome has resulted in protests forming in cities all over the country. Some are peaceful, some are turning violent.

A Trump presidency has sent many communities into a complete panic. One of those is the LGBTQIA (LGBT) community. This week, Political Focus examines the concerns raised by the protesters in regard to LGBT legislation and examine how legitimate these concerns may be as we head into a Trump presidency.

Trump’s statements so far

As The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Trump has no reputation for personal animosity toward gay people.” It pointed out Trump’s comments that transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel appropriate.” He also offered his condolences after the pulse nightclub shooting that took place in Orlando in June.

A Republican LGBT political group, the Log Cabin Republicans, called Trump “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party,” but did not back him in the election.

Trump was also the first GOP nominee to make a positive mention of LGBT people in his Republican Convention speech.

Therefore, it isn’t Trump himself that is making some of the concerns of the LGBT community legitimate. Responsibility for this lies more accurately on Vice President-elect Mike Pence and the standard views of the Republican Party, both of which have a record of opposing LGBT equality.

U.S. Supreme Court nominees

Progress was made throughout President Barack Obama’s administration in regard to rights for the LGBT community. Now, with Trump in charge of nominating Supreme Court justices, fear is spreading that some of this progress will be reversed.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of marriage equality. Since then, Antonin Scalia, the most conservative-leaning of the justices at that time, has passed, leaving a vacancy for Trump to fill.

Since Scalia was the fiercest of those in dissent of the ruling, it would be hard for his replacement to have an equal effect on the outcome of any future arguments placed in front of the Supreme Court, leaving the marriages of same-sex couples safe for now.

The LGBT community’s concerns would become more legitimate if any additional seats became vacant during the Trump presidency, which is quite possible, as the average age of retirement for Supreme Court justices is 78.

Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer are currently serving at ages 83, 80 and 78, respectively.

However, many activists are optimistic that by the time they retire, society will have become adjusted to the idea of same-sex marriage, and the 2015 ruling will stand.

Transgender treatment legislation

Obama has advocated for schools to treat students by their gender identities, not the physical genders they were born with. This was met with criticism by many conservatives, notably includes Vice President-elect Pence.

As the current governor of Indiana, Pence has opposed marriage equality and signed legislation that allows businesses to refuse service to LGBT people by citing religious freedom.

Trump himself has said that transgender students should be protected by the law, but says legislation should be left up to the states. Based on his previous statements, I don’t yet foresee any changes to federal law regarding LGBT rights.