I'm a gay man, and I'm terrified — I use that word intentionally — of Donald Trump becoming president.
Allow me to explain.
When I was younger, I was afraid of many things. This list included but was not limited to kidnappers and the strict nuns who ran my Catholic elementary school. Yet the fear that loomed largest over me also happened to be my biggest secret: That someone would discover I was gay.
This prolonged state of fear persisted until I came out the summer after senior year of college. Though years of self-imposed psychological angst didn't simply evaporate at that moment, it was nonetheless a momentous step toward accepting my identity.
I'm lucky that all my friends and family instantly embraced me. But I am acutely aware that not everyone is as fortunate. Though Pew Research Center polling shows a majority of Americans now support gay marriage, more than one-third of Americans steadfastly oppose it. Many are openly hostile, forming a kind of nefarious chorus that spews corrosive hate speech at the LGBTQ+ community.
Hillary Clinton has been a tireless advocate for marginalized groups like the LGBTQ+ community her entire career, and she has made supporting and protecting them a top issue of her campaign. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has publicly, proudly and happily aligned himself with this latter group.
Theodore Parker was right when he said the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice, but we can never forget that change happens in both directions. There are countless examples throughout history of groups who have fought and won important rights, only to subsequently see those victories scaled back or completely reversed. LGBTQ+ people are by no means the only community at risk of losing their fundamental rights if Trump wins the presidency.
This is what makes Trump such a terrifying presidential candidate.
Trump and the Republican party are unequivocally against same-sex marriage.
Trump has said he would nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn the landmark 2015 decision that effectively made same-sex marriage the law of the land.
Here's how Trump explained his position during a 2011 taped interview with Bill O'Reilly:
"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." (FYI: He's also opposed to civil unions.)
Four years after his O'Reilly interview, Trump told CNN's Jake Tapper that he supported only “traditional marriage.” Though he was loath to expound on this assertion, his Republican party is more than happy to fill in the blanks. Here's how the party platform tackles the institution of marriage:
“We condemn the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court's lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges…In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
They also back legislation that legalizes discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, it's not just same-sex marriage that's at stake this election. Trump and the Republican party have voiced their support for HB 2, the North Carolina law that essentially legalizes discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. As The Huffington Post reported, Trump has explicitly backed the state's decision to enforce the rule.
HB 2 wasn't born in a vacuum, however. It was modeled after Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was coincidentally signed into law by Pence, who is the state's governor. Apart from sparking protests across the US, these laws have had negative economic consequences: A study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that HB 2 could cost the North Carolina economy nearly $5 billion in lost federal funding and business investment.
Women could lose the right to make their own healthcare decisions.
When it comes to a woman's personal healthcare decisions, Trump can't run from his own words. The Washington Post reports that in March he told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that women who have an abortion would be punished for doing so once the procedure is made illegal.
Just to drive home the fact that he holds men above women, he then made it clear that men would not suffer the same legal repercussions as their female counterparts.
Trump's Supreme Court nominees could reverse decades of progress by overturning landmark rulings protecting fundamental civil rights.
From day one, whoever wins this election will already have a vacant Supreme Court seat to fill. (Republicans in Congress have refused to even hold a vote on President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland.) What's more, two of the remaining eight justices are 80 or older, increasing the likelihood that they'll retire, leaving additional vacancies on the court.
From abortion and same-sex marriage to voter ID laws and affirmative action, the Supreme Court routinely hears cases whose outcomes have major repercussions. Since Trump has already released the names of judges he says he'd nominate if elected, we have a solid understanding of how he wants to shape its future.
Spoiler alert: It's not pretty.
The New York Times reports that of the 11 judges Trump initially named, all are white and eight are men. Many of the potential nominees have also questioned abortion rights.
And let's not forget what Trump said during an appearance on Fox News this year: "I will appoint judges that will be pro-life, yes."
The environment would be ravaged, accelerating climate change.
To understand Trump's stance on the environment, all you have to do is consult this infamous tweet he shot off in November 2012:
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Then there's this statement that PolitiFact reports he made to a crowd in South Carolina late last year:
"Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and…a lot of it's a hoax. It's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry. It's a hoax, a lot of it."
But that's just the beginning.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has excitedly proclaimed his intention to completely reverse environmental regulations and promote coal and oil production. Time reports that Trump also said he would renege on US participation in the Paris Agreement, which nearly 200 countries signed last year in a historic gesture of international cooperation and determination to fight climate change.
And then there's Myron Ebell, whom Trump has tapped to head the EPA's transition team should he win in November. (Trump has said he would dismantle the EPA as president.) Ebell is a prominent climate change denier who, according to Newsweek, attacked the pope — yes, that pope — for his 2015 encyclical that argued for a collaborative approach to forestalling global warming.
We absolutely cannot let Trump win.
Trump has a legitimate chance at becoming president. That is a fact. But here's another fact: Hillary Clinton is more qualified and better-prepared than Trump could ever be.
As he demonstrated during the first presidential debate, Trump is who he is. He lies. He pits groups against one another. He obfuscates. He mocks people with disabilities.
We cannot let Trump become president.
Yet the only way we can insure a Trump-free future and a Clinton victory is to vote for her on Election Day. We need to urge our friends and our family members to vote for her. We need to remember what's at stake. We need to think about what actually could happen if Trump wins. We need to remember that our rights are at stake. That our friends' rights are at stake. That the rights of entire groups of people are at stake.
This election is about more than any one person or community of people. It's about the very foundation of this country and what it stands for.
We can't let Trump decide our future.
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