The Pinkwashing of Trump's Record and the stakes for LGBTQ America | Opinion

We are at the midway point of the political conventions. As the world's leading media advocate for LGBTQ acceptance, we have been watching closely to see how the conventions' reimagining for our virtual lives might translate to actual change, in our real lives.

This change must include new efforts to right the inequality faced by millions of Americans, including LGBTQ people and queer people of color, who have disproportionately suffered from the pandemic, its economic fallout and police-related violence. These issues must be part of the campaign conversation. Our very lives are at stake.

To achieve real change, we should first be honest about the myths and the facts you might hear and see this week and beyond.

It's a myth that hard-earned progress is inevitable. In fact, as we have seen the last three years, progress is erasable.

In fact, the record shows the Trump Administration has actively blocked progress and reversed important gains for the LGBTQ community. President Trump's out former ambassador to Germany and former acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, is to appear tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention. Grenell's claims in a campaign video have been thoroughly discredited by LGBTQ groups and called "absurd" by independent fact checkers.

GLAAD created an ad airing this week on cable and digital channels to show the personal consequences of this lack of support for LGBTQ people. It features a conversation many of us have had with our own families who love us, but who may not understand how our government has tried to hurt us.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people has not eased with Supreme Court rulings affirming marriage equality, or the decision in June to expand non-discrimination employment protections. In fact, the Justice Department has yet to begin enforcing the latter.

Millions of LGBTQ Americans remain unprotected. 27 states have no nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

It means a landlord in Florida can refuse to rent to a same-sex couple. A college student in Tennessee can be kicked out of school for being transgender. A hospital in Maryland can refuse to treat a transgender man.

The Equality Act addresses these wrongs. It amends the Civil Rights Act to ensure comprehensive protections for sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide, including in housing, education, public accommodations and access to credit. It is a quilt of coverage, not a small square provided by the Court's landmark, but limited, decision. It allows a chance "for the full participation of LGBTQ people in society," as the text of the Act says.

The Equality Act passed the House in May of 2019 by a vote of 235-173. It has not moved in the GOP-led Senate, nor even come up for a vote. President Trump has said he opposes it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take any action on it.

This also must change.

GLAAD has been tracking anti-LGBTQ policy and rhetoric—at least 170 attacks and counting—coming from the Trump administration—including his opposition to The Equality Act.

Those who claim President Trump has led his party to "meaningful policy victories" for LGBTQ people have a distorted view of "victories." The administration has deployed multiple agencies to roll back protections for LGBTQ people where we need it most—in health care, housing, education and the military. It has repeatedly argued all the way to the Supreme Court against LGBTQ workers, and LGBTQ families, in a case to be heard this fall.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced a rollback on protections for transgender people seeking health care in the middle of Pride Month, and exactly four years to the day of the Pulse nightclub massacre, where 49 people were killed, most of them LGBTQ.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is currently trying to make it harder for transgender homeless people to find safe shelter, in the middle of the pandemic, in a year of record violence against trans people.

Those lauding President Trump's effort to decriminalize being gay worldwide fail to mention that it went exactly nowhere. Authoritarian leaders like President Andrzej Duda of Poland, who campaigned on a harsh anti-LGBTQ platform, were embraced by President Trump.

President Trump's announcement about funding for HIV treatments is more helpful to pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies than people living with HIV and AIDS. It does not address the costs of essential clinic visits and lab expenses to get the prescription to save their lives. Funding for that remains woefully limited.

The Trump Administration has even politicized the Pride flag—equating it with the divisive Confederate flag in a new Defense Department policy limiting what can be displayed on military bases, another way of excluding and degrading the sacrifice of LGBTQ service members.

And let's be clear. These are issues not just important to LGBTQ people, but to everyone who believes in fairness and equity, and a country where we can all be safe, belong and succeed. In the conventions and campaigns and conversations to follow, we have a chance to reimagine a better place for all of us.

If President Trump is truly a champion of the LGBTQ community, he could begin by encouraging Senate Majority Leader McConnell to bring a vote to the floor on The Equality Act. We'll be watching.

Sarah Kate Ellis is President and CEO of GLAAD.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

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