Everyone appointed to Donald Trump's cabinet so far has opposed LGBT rights

President-elect calls himself ‘friend to the gays’

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The Independent US

President-elect Donald Trump has long insisted he is a “supporter” of LGBT rights and argued he is a "friend to the gays".

He once alleged that if Hillary Clinton won the White House, Islamist terrorists could enter the US who would "murder gays", while claiming that if he were elected he would "do everything in [his] power to protect our LGBTQ citizens”.

Yet critics have pointed out his cabinet appointments so far – which include staunch conservatives who have fiercely opposed gay marriage – indicate otherwise.

Early in his career, vice President-elect Mike Pence advocated siphoning off government funding for HIV treatment and instead putting it towards gay “conversion therapy”.

More recently, he signed into law a controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, giving businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General has sparked alarm in the LGBT community. Mr Sessions has previously opposed lifting a ban on openly gay people serving in the military, voted in support of banning same-sex marriage and voted against a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Donald Trump's controversial cabinet

The senator – who will become responsible for law enforcement – has also opposed expanding the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, twice.

Appointing doctor-turned-politician Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services has also prompted concern.

Mr Price – a longstanding critic of Obama's healthcare reform legislation – has also criticised the administration's guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, declaring them “absurd”. 

The orthopedic surgeon has previously co-sponsored a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

And when gay marriage  eventually became legal, he said: “This is not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.”

Newly appointed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has spent heavily in opposition to same-sex-marriage laws in several states. According to the Michigan LGBT publication PrideSource.com, Ms Devos and her husband spearheaded a campaign to pass an anti-gay-marriage ballot referendum in the state in 2004, contributing more than $200,000 dollars to the drive. 

Mr Trump's latest appointment of Transport Secretary, Elaine Chao, used to serve as George W Bush’s Labour Secretary. In that position, Ms Chao oversaw a Department of Labour which opposed LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans – a group pro-LGBT Republican group – has expressed concern about Mr Trump's appointments.

“There is a reason that Log Cabin Republicans withheld endorsement from Mr Trump. That is because there are many unknowns surrounding his presidency,” he told The Intercept.

"What I can say with certainty is that marriage equality in the United States is here, and here to stay.

“When you look big picture, what you see is someone who is surrounding themself with, in many cases, just as many pro-gay individuals as there are people who are not historical allies of the LGBT community.

"What that seems indicative of is Mr Trump trying to unify what have been historically polarized and historically oppositional forces not just within the GOP, but within American culture.”

LGBT charity Stonewall responded to the five appointments saying: “During this period of increased change in the US, it is imperative that the incoming government continues to build upon recent legislation which has strengthened equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people – such as equal marriage.

“Equality cannot be allowed to recede, either in the US or globally and we hope UK and US governments will continue to work together to support international LGBT communities.

“This election campaign has also revealed that there are some deep divisions in the US, making it essential that the new president and his cabinet are proactive in unifying communities and fighting discrimination.”

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