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Trump Isn’t The LGBTQ Ally He Claimed To Be After Orlando Shooting

While Donald Trump framed himself as a supporter of the LGBTQ community following the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, his record on key gay rights issues tells a much different story.

“I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people… are the targets of persecution and intimidation,” he said in his speech on Monday. “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?”

Trump’s actions, though, show that the Republican nominee is lukewarm at best — and hostile at worst — on marriage equality and anti-discrimination policies.

Earlier this year, Trump expressed conditional support for the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that justifies anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious liberty.

“If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump wrote in a letter to the American Principles Project, a socially conservative group, according to The Washington Blade.

The bill would allow federal employees to refuse to perform their responsibilities if they conflict with their opposition to same-sex marriage, and prevent the government from taking any action in response. Some say FADA would effectively enable government workers to refuse service to same-sex couples, following the infamous (and illegal) actions of county clerk Kim Davis — who Trump has refused to denounce or publicly oppose.  

When it comes to marriage equality itself, Trump’s public comments aren’t any better. Although he often says gay marriage should be left up to individual states, he has expressed an overall opposition to marriage equality on more than one recent occasion.

Earlier this year, he called Ted Cruz crazy and “the worst liar” on Twitter when the former presidential candidate said Trump supported Obama’s views on the issue.

And when the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling on same-sex marriage in June 2015, he wrote on Twitter that the court “had let us down.”

His most unambiguous comments on the issue came weeks earlier, when, he said on Fox’s Hannity, “I am traditional. I am for traditional, and it’s a changing format, but I am very much for traditional marriage.”

These views may seem innocuous, if unsupportive, given the Supreme Court ruling, but Trump also expressed an interest in appointing judges who could overturn the gay marriage decision.

“If I’m elected I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change things, but they have a long way to go,” he said on Fox News Sunday in January.

When host Chris Wallace clarified, “are you saying that if you become President you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?” Trump said he “would strongly consider” such an approach.

The New York Times has gone so far as to say that Trump’s views are more accepting than his former opponents in the Republican primary contest. While that may be true, his expressed policy views make it difficult to see him becoming “a friend” to the LGBTQ community — regardless of his political pandering after a mass shooting.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. June 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Pastor’s False Charge Sets Struggle Against Real Injustice Back

Last month, a pastor named Jordan Brown, who is openly gay, went into a Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas, and purchased a cake. He ordered the words “Love Wins” to be written in icing. On the car ride home, he claimed, he noticed an anti-gay slur written on the cake as well.

He called the store, received an apology and was told whoever did that would be fired. He was asked to — and did — send photos of the cake, still sealed in the box.

Brown then received a call saying the store didn’t believe any of its employees had done that.

Brown made a video, showing the cake and making the accusation. He also filed a lawsuit, seeking damages. The lawsuit claimed Brown was in tears after the incident, and it is “impossible to calculate the emotional distress that these events have caused.”

His lawyer also told the media that Brown was concerned that if he didn’t raise a fuss, someone else might go through “a similarly excruciating experience.”

Then, last week, more than a month after his purchase, Brown admitted the whole thing was a hoax.

He was right about one thing. No one should have to go through such an excruciating experience.

Especially when a pastor is perpetuating it.

This story struck me on a few personal levels. First, the phrase “Love Wins” has often been associated with a book I wrote called “Tuesdays With Morrie,” where my old professor, who was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease, said that life is a “tension of opposites,” kind of like a wrestling match. When I asked which side wins, he said, “Love wins. Love always wins.”

I don’t know if that’s where Brown got it. But anytime I hear those words, I perk up. To see them in the middle of a mess like this was unnerving.

Secondly, just by chance, I happen to know Walter Robb, the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. I’ve known him to be an absolute standup person for communities and people’s basic rights. He has made diversity and inclusiveness a loudly stated part of Whole Foods’ core values — something grocery store chains don’t often do. In fact, the Whole Foods employee Brown accused of writing the gay slur was a member of the LGBT community — one reason the story immediately seemed fishy.

Which brings us to Brown, 31, who, stunningly, despite knowing he was lying, referred repeatedly to his faith in his lawsuit. He claimed that he’d grown up in a family of pastors, began preaching when he was 14, and founded his own congregation two years ago, the Church of Open Doors, a non-denominational Christian-based church, which delivers a message of “personal empowerment.”

I’m not a pastor. But I don’t think personal empowerment means lying, suing and making false accusations.

Doesn’t the Ten Commandments cover that?

If someone truly had written that slur on the cake, it would be declared reprehensible. Many did just that, as soon as the story broke, assuming it was true.

We must now do even more with Brown. What he did was worse. For whatever twisted reason, he created phony hatred where there wasn’t any, then sought to benefit from it. He besmirched a good organization, and made a terrible false accusation against an innocent person — a member of the community Brown pretended to defend.

Brown issued an apology with his confession last week, saying, “I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story.”

Of course, he did this through a statement, not a news conference like the one he called to shed false tears. What was his motivation? Money? That’s shameless. Attention? That’s sad. Building support for the gay community by inventing discrimination against it? That’s sick.

Brown set back every future case against intolerance, allowing critics to ask if it’s real or fabricated. We’d do well to not jump the gun going forward, instead doing what Whole Foods did: investigate, get the facts, and then let them speak for themselves. Whole Foods, admiringly, dropped a countersuit against Brown, essentially declaring the matter over.

Meanwhile, Brown should do more than apologize to his small church. He should resign from it. If he was willing to let his phony accusation cost someone a job, his contrition ought to include the same. Besides, who on earth would listen to a pastor who claims “Love wins” while trying so hard to defeat it?

Photo: A box of cupcakes are seen topped with icons of same-sex couples at City Hall in San Francisco, June 29, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Georgia Governor To Veto Religious Freedom Bill Seen As Anti-Gay

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said on Monday he will veto a religious freedom bill passed by the state legislature that has drawn national criticism for discriminating against same-sex couples.

The bill, which states that no pastor can be forced to perform a same-sex wedding, was recently passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

Under the bill, faith-based groups could not be forced to hire or retain an employee whose beliefs run counter to the organization’s, while churches and religious schools would have the right to reject holding events for people or groups to whom they object.

Deal, a Republican, said he could not support legislation that drew wide criticism from corporations and had triggered threats of a state boycott by the entertainment industry, including movie and TV studios and prominent actors.

“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal said at news conference on the legislation, noting his religious faith.

Deal’s decision was immediately celebrated by gay rights advocates, including the national Human Rights Campaign.

“Our message to Governor Nathan Deal was loud and clear: this deplorable legislation was bad for his constituents, bad for business, and bad for Georgia’s future,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

He added that Deal had “set an example for other elected officials to follow.”

 

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler)

Photo: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, center, speaks to the media at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell