Pro-Trump ad faces ridicule after it claims he is the most ‘pro-gay president in American history’

The claim is made by Robert Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence, in an ad made by Log Cabin Republicans

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Monday 24 August 2020 17:07 BST
Pro-Donald Trump election ad says he is the most 'pro-gay president in American history'

A Donald Trump election ad has faced ridicule after it claimed he was the "most pro-gay president in American history".

The claim was made by Robert Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence, in an ad released by the Log Cabin Republicans.

"President Trump is the most pro-gay president in American history – I can prove it," Mr Grenell said in the ad. "There are tens of thousands of gay conservatives just like me who also won't be silent. Gay people don't have to vote Democrat because Donald Trump is the most pro-gay president in American history."

Mr Grenell then claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had a longer history of opposing policies that would help the LGBTQ community than Mr Trump.

"As a United States senator, Joe Biden said gay people couldn't receive security clearances because we would be a security risk," Mr Grenell said in the ad, in reference to comments Mr Biden made in the 1970s. "As a US senator, Biden supported 'don't ask, don't tell' and the Defense of Marriage Act. Biden voted to cut off federal funds to any school that teaches acceptance of homosexuality."

"Joe must have been terrified when Donald Trump appointed me as acting director of national intelligence," he added.

These comments are not entirely accurate of the situation. The first sentence referred to a comment Mr Biden made in 1973. During a neighbourhood meeting, Mr Biden was asked about anti-gay civil service regulations.

"My gut reaction is that they are security risks, but I must admit I have not given this much thought," he responded. "I'll be darned."

It is worth noting that Mr Grenell claimed in the ad that the former vice president was against "security clearances", but he actually responded to civil service regulations. Mr Biden also didn't take a strong position on the matter when addressing it at the time.

Mr Grenell went on to state that Mr Biden supported "don't ask, don't tell", but this statement distorts the facts.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule was enacted by the Clinton administration in 1993. Bill Clinton's intention was to lift the ban within the military that prevented gay service members from serving. But instead a compromise was reached in Congress that said military applicants would not be asked their sexual orientation but they could be kicked out if it was discovered they were gay.

Mr Biden opposed making the amendment and instead wanted Mr Clinton to set the policy as how he originally wanted it. After the amendment failed, Mr Biden voted for the overall defence bill that included "don't ask, don't tell".

The Obama administration later repealed that policy in 2010, a fact not mentioned in the ad.

It was correct, though, that Mr Biden supported the Defense of Marriage Act signed by Mr Clinton in 1996. But then in 2012, as the country evolved, Mr Biden vocally came out as supporting same-sex marriage and celebrated when the decision from the 2014 Supreme Court made it possible in every state across the country. He even officiated a wedding in 2016 between two men.

Mr Grenell's claim that the former senator "must have been terrified" by his appointment as an openly gay acting director of national intelligence in 2016 was likely inaccurate, at least for the reason he alluded to.

Both Republicans and Democrats were against Mr Grenell's appointment as he had no prior experience in national intelligence before the appointment, not because he was gay.

"As one of the four authors of the law that created the DNI back in 2004, I care deeply about that position and believe the person needs experience in the intelligence community, which regrettably Ambassador Grenell does not have," Senator Susan Collins, Republican with Maine, said after Mr Grenell was appointed.

His position in the Trump administration was temporary and only lasted three months.

GLAAD releases anti-Trump ad to run on Fox News

GLAAD released an ad attacking Mr Trump's position on LGBTQ policies while in office.

The anti-Trump advertisement, which will air on Fox News all week, involves a gay man speaking to his mother about LGBTQ policies and where the sitting president stands.

"Ma, do you know that I could be evicted for being gay? Or turned away at the ER?" the man tells his mother in the ad. "Donald Trump opposes the bill that would change that."

In 2019, it was announced that Mr Trump opposed the Democrats attempt to pass the Equity Act, which would create a national standard for LGBTQ nondiscrimination.

"The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," a Trump administration official said at the time. "However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights."

GLAAD's president and CEO Sarah Ellis, when speaking to The Daily Beast, said the organisation did not consider Mr Trump an ally to the community.

"Trump claimed he would support the LGBTQ community in his 2016 Republican National Convention speech, but what his administration has given us is exactly the opposite," Ms Ellis said.

Besides the Trump administration opposing the Equity Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development gave permission to homeless shelters to ban transgender people, the Justice Department supported some adoption agencies from allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, and the administration filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to not expand Title VII protections for LBGTQ people, Ms Ellis said.

"Trump's decision to appoint Grenell did not result in changes helpful to the LGBTQ community – and his so-called effort to decriminalize being LGBTQ worldwide went exactly nowhere," she told the publication in response to Mr Grenell's ad.

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