President Trump’s stance on LGBTQ rights has been debated, and while anti-Trump protesters demonstrated throughout the inaugural weekend, one LGBTQ alliance celebrated.
More than 200 Trump supporters assembled last week at the Bolger Center in Potomac, Md., for a "DeploraBall," a black tie affair organized by LGBTQ coalition Gays for Trump to celebrate the President’s swearing-in. The name derives from an attempt to reclaim a phrase Hillary Clinton once used to describe Trump supporters -- a “basket of deplorables.”
Peter Boykin, a North Carolina resident and head of Gays for Trump, helped organize the event and said his group evaded planned protests by choosing a more remote venue away from Downtown Washington, D.C. An affiliated DeploraBall that same weekend, held at the National Press Club in D.C., garnered a turnout of more than 300 protesters.
Boykin called the anti-Trump protesters uninformed and suggested their motivation stemmed from lingering effects of Trump's campaign rhetoric.
“There is a lot of misinformation, and you've got campaign things that were said one way or another, and they're just not getting over that," Boykin said.
Soon after Friday's inauguration ceremony, the Trump Administration raised concerns among members of the LGBTQ community after removing all mentions of the acronym “LGBT" from the White House website. However, the White House also issued a statement explaining the transfer of all Obama White House archives to ObamaWhiteHouse.gov as the Trump staff transitions.
“It’s a new administration. It’s a new IT. The old website had Obama all over it, and that doesn’t mean they’re getting rid of our rights,” Boykin said in defense of the removal.“ Since then, however, the Trump team has yet to announce plans to restore the page whitehouse.gov/lgbt, which under the Obama administration included President Obama’s position on LGBTQ issues and additional resources for the LGBTQ community.
Donald Trump did not run his campaign behind a specific LGBTQ platform, but his track record diverges from the Republican party’s historically anti-LGBTQ stance. For instance, Trump expressed his preference for traditional marriage in a 2015 interview with CNN but reversed his stance after the Supreme Court Decision granted marriage rights to same-sex couples.
“it was already settled. It's law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it's done," Trump said in a "60 Minutes" interview shortly after the election -- a strong point of support for Boykin, who believes Trump has always been an ally for the LGBTQ community.
“We have received our rights. Trump is not going to take those away. He's not anti-LGBT, and he's never been. He’s pro-American, whoever you are,” Boykin said.
Trump also made history as the first GOP presidential nominee to include a specific statement on LGBTQ inclusion at the Republican National Convention. In response to the mass shooting at an Orlando night club, Trump said, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology."
Members of Trump’s cabinet, however, have taken a much more traditional stance. Vice President Mike Pence, for example, passed a "religious freedom" bill while governor of Indiana that was widely criticized as a threat to the LGBTQ community.
Boykin’s main reasons for supporting Trump, however, are centered around American nationalism and keeping certain people out of the country, which Trump emphasized during his campaign. Highlighting global terrorism as the biggest issue facing the United States right now, Boykin said he supports the building of a physical wall between Mexico and the United States but noted that he cares more about preventing terrorists from coming in overseas.
“It's important that we fight global terrorism. It's been way too easy for them to come through. When Donald Trump says America first, that's completely what is needed.”
Gays for Trump, which claims it has "over 100,000 supporters and growing every day," is in the minority among the LGBTQ community, and Trump’s divisive promises of a wall along the Mexican border and “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants have morphed over time. As of now, whitehouse.gov has a page for foreign policy, but there is no mention of the Mexican border or banning Muslims from the country.
For those who missed out on Gays for Trump's inaugural DeploraBall, there may be another opportunity to take part in the festivities: The group is currently planning a Fourth of July DeploraBall.