What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for LGBT rights?

Reactions to the news that Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States have ranged from elation to, well, sheer horror - particularly for people who Trump has previously marginalised.

For the LGBT community, the election of a man who not only doesn't mention LGBT rights as any part of his policies, but has actually spoken out against them, is disturbing.

So what will a Trump regime mean for the LGBT community?

(Eric Gay/AP)
(Eric Gay/AP)

Well, at best his views appear to be confused. At worst, they could pose real danger to legislative progress made during the Obama administration.

After the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub, Trump told the crowds at a rally in Atlanta: "We want to live in a country where gay and lesbian Americans and all Americans are safe from radical Islam, which, by the way, wants to murder and has murdered gays and they enslave women."

Then he attended a gathering of evangelical pastors called Rediscovering God in America, Renewal Project, in Orlando. Many of the pastors in attendance are known for expressing their anti-LGBT views. Trump was criticised heavily for the timing - just two months after the 49 people were murdered.

Marriage rights

(Bill Tiernan/AP)
(Bill Tiernan/AP)

In June 2015, under Barack Obama's presidency, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 14 states that banned same-sex marriage - including Michigan, Texas and Ohio - would no longer be able to do so. But Trump has said he would replace Supreme Court judges with others who better represent his views.

The president-elect has never made his feelings on same-sex marriage a secret. In 2011 he was asked whether he favoured gay marriage during an interview with Bill O'Reilly, and he said: "I'm against it."

He added: "I just don't feel good about it. I don't feel right about it. I'm against it and I take a lot of heat because I come from New York. You know, for New York it's like, how can you be against gay marriage? But I'm opposed to gay marriage."

Then he did an interview on Fox News in January this year in which he was asked about the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

Trump said: "If I'm elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things."

He was asked: "Are you saying that if you became president, you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?"

Trump replied: "I would strongly consider that, yes."

Human Rights Campaign's Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said it's "not impossible" that marriage equality will be overturned but it's "not likely", during a Facebook Live held after the result.

She said: "Congress and President-elect Trump do not have the power to unilaterally undo marriage equality. What they do have the power to do is to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. But at least in the short run, all five justices who voted to bring marriage equality are still on the bench and that is not going to change in the near future.

"No one who is currently married should experience any problems about having the marriage recognised by the federal government or the state government."

Discrimination laws

(J Pat Carter/AP)
(J Pat Carter/AP)

A (now deleted) section of Trump's campaign website declared: "If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defence Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths."

The act uses "religious freedom" to effectively legalise anti-LGBT discrimination across all states, allowing employers, businesses, landlords and healthcare providers to discriminate on the basis of their own religion. So a hotel manger could refuse a same-sex couple a room together for example.

In the US LGBT people aren't protected from discrimination under federal law, only some state laws. Currently 18 states don't have any state laws which protect employment rights for LGBT people, while a further 10 only protect people in public employment.

Warbelow explained protections under state laws won't change in the short run and the courts will continue to accept discrimination complaints.

But she said: "We do have concerns that the new administration will very likely not enforce these as vigorously as the Obama administration has."

Transgender rights 

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (Chuck Burton/AP)
(Chuck Burton/AP)

One of the major things Obama did through the Department of Justice and Education was to issue guidance protecting transgender people, particularly students.

But HRC's government affairs director David Stacy said: "That guidance I think is at very grave risk. It's been opposed by Republicans in Congress, it's been challenged in court. And I think there's a significant likelihood that the Department of Justice will withdraw that guidance.

"However... that doesn't mean the underlying law is any different. School districts for example have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure every student has a safe learning environment and that transgender students are treated in accordance with their gender identity."

One particular area of contention is North Carolina, where the votes for governor are still being counted - the state that has what's known as the anti-trans H.B.2 "bathroom bill".

The race is between Republican Pat McCrory (who passed and signed the H.B.2 bill) and Democrat Roy Cooper. The law repealed all local ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination, and required all transgender people to use the bathroom that coordinates with the gender on their birth certificate, not the gender they identify as.

Unfortunately though, Trump appeared to support the North Carolina law in an interview with The News & Observer in July. He was asked whether the H.B.2 was a law he supported or whether the state should have made some changes to it.

Trump replied: "I'm going with the state. They know what's going on, they see what's happening, and generally speaking I'm with the state on things like this. I've spoken to your governor (McCrory), I've spoken to a lot of different people, and I'm going with the state."

Trump's team 

Ken Blackwell (Mary Altaffer AP)
Ken Blackwell (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Another, quite big, concern is the rest of the people in Trump's administration. The vice president-to-be Mike Pence has proven himself to have very strong anti-LGBT rights views. He wrote on his 2000 campaign website that money should be moved away from supporting HIV treatment towards institutions which "provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour".

Meanwhile Trump has just appointed Ken Blackwell as head of his domestic policy transition team. Blackwell was the secretary of state for Ohio - he also runs the Family Research Council, an organisation which directs people on its website to advice on "struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions" and how to fight "homosexual activism in schools".

Trump's campaign manager Steve Bannon is also expected to take an important place in the new president's top team. Before taking on the position on the Trump campaign he was the editor of right-wing website Breitbart. It has often been accused of publishing articles with anti-LGBT slurs.

Equality Florida's CEO Nadine Smith had a positive message though: "There remain millions more voters who did not support Trump. And millions more still who did not vote at all. As community organisers we have nourished civil rights movements on fewer crumbs than that."

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