Representatives from the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Lambda Legal, LA Pride / Christopher Street West and other individuals spoke this past Friday at a Town Hall meeting that focused on challenges that face the Gay community because of the Trump presidency.
The Town Hall was held at The Fiesta Hall at Plummer Park and sponsored by the I Love Me Foundation, a non-profit Advocacy group for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Dave Garcia, Policy Director at The Center (pictured), kicked off the discussion and spoke at length of the many new battles that lie ahead based on what we know to be the mindset of the new Administration. The Center now hosts a site 100daysandme.org, which aims to keep us all updated on issues of particular concern during the initial days of the Trump administration.
- Budget Cuts: the biggest threat of all is the potential across the board cut by 30% of all discretionary spending. This could have a devastating impact on the Center’s $100 Million budget, 80% of which is provided by Federal funding; much of the Center’s work is devoted to health care, a critical resource. The cuts could also impact the Ryan White Act, which is subject to Congressional approval and provides AIDS care to over half a million people each year.
- The First Amendment Defense Act, also known as FADA, prohibits the federal government from taking "discriminatory action" against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: "(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." FADA stands a much greater chance of passing now due to the Republican controlled house and Republican President.
- Immigration. We have already seen the beginnings of what is to come here, but Garcia focused on the potential impact of a policy that deports “undocumented criminals”. A criminal could be someone stopped for a broken tail light. We don’t know how far this Administration will go.
- Obama Anti-Discrimination Executive Order: Obama put in place an Executive Order that included sexual orientation and gender identity under the umbrella of sexual discrimination when it comes to Federal workers and contractors. Trump can rescind this order with the stroke of a pen, although he recently stated he would uphold this order.
- Cabinet Picks: Trump’s cabinet picks all have reason to cause alarm in the LGBT community, but the Vice President is probably the most notable. Vice President Pence signed a license to discriminate bill 2 years ago as Governor of Indiana. Many believe that Pence is pro-conversion therapy for Gays, a practice that is illegal in California, but he denies that. Betsy DeVos, candidate for the education secretary, is part of the high profile Amway family with a strong anti-LGBT history, but a recent New York Times article questions whether she personally is anti-LGBT. Jeff Sessions, candidate for Attorney General and Tom Price, Health and Human Services candidate both have anti-LGBT records - Democrats are already acting to block the Price nomination. Sessions is likely to be a strong foe of the LGBT community as documented by CNN.
- Supreme Court Pick: We all know what this means. And don’t be surprised if there are more openings during the Trump Administration. Ruth isn’t getting any younger!
Call to Action
What can you do to make a difference? Here are some of the recommendations of the speakers at the Town Hall:
- Give time and money to the organizations and legal representatives that you believe in (not just your state representatives). Craig Bowers, a Chrisopher Street West / APLA / LA Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Board member, emphasized that just giving money is not enough: “Figure out how you can get involved on your own or in concert with other people to make things happen.”
- Reach out to your representatives and be heard.
- Vote at both the local and national levels. West Hollywood has an election coming up in March, and you can no longer assume that all candidates on the ballot are placing the LGBT community high on their priorities. Research your candidates and issues.
Quotes worth note:
“If anybody thinks that they (the Trump Administration with emphasis on Housing and Human Services) are not coming after the LGBT community, you’re wrong” – David Garcia, LA LGBT Center Policy Director
“The biggest threat is the across the board cut in discretionary funding by this Administration. Because that will cut all social services… all of it… Ryan White included. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is a part of that.” - David Garcia, LA LGBT Center Policy Director
“He is not going to stop us from building the largest affordable housing unit for seniors and youth in our city” - David Garcia, LA LGBT Center Policy Director referring to the Center’s project to build housing for low income LGBT Youth and Seniors.
“We are going to sue the Trump Administration a lot…. We are seeing a lot of progressive civil leaders prepare to fight this Administration and its policies in courts.” - Francisco Duenas, Co-Deputy Director of Education, Advocacy & Inclusion for Lambda Legal
“In West Hollywood, only 1/3 of the residents vote... We have an election coming up on March 7th…. Get out and vote. Promote affordable housing in every way that you can… From what I’ve seen in the last few years the Gay and Lesbian focus has gone down to the lower rungs.“ - Michael Cautillo, West Hollywood Council Candidate
“My friend Brian Pendleton has an idea to turn a portion of Gay Pride into a protest… potentially working with Christopher Street West. In 24 hours, over 24,000 people showed interest in a link Brian posted. “ - Yawar Charlie, Board Member of I Love Me Foundation (paraphrased)