Ge­or­gia gay Repub­li­cans stick by Trump

Sup­port­ers weigh in on anti-LGBT cabi­net mem­bers, re­vo­ca­tion of trans­gen­der bath­room di­rec­tive

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

By ROB­BIE MEDWED

It’s been just over three months since Don­ald Trump be­came pres­i­dent of the United States. In that time, he nom­i­nated a cabi­net full of sec­re­taries with du­bi­ous anti-LGBT poli­cies and rhetor­i­cal records, he re­scinded guid­ance from the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion de­signed to keep trans­gen­der chil­dren safe in schools across the coun­try and his ad­min­is­tra­tion has flirted with a larger, more dam­ag­ing anti-LGBT “re­li­gious free­dom” ex­ec­u­tive or­der that is con­stantly ru­mored to be in the works.

As news or­ga­ni­za­tions across the world mark his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s first 100 days, we de­cided to do our own check-in on his progress. In June 2016, we spoke with two gay Trump sup­port­ers, re­tired me­te­o­rol­o­gist Arch Kennedy and col­lege stu­dent Avery An­der­son. We re­cently fol­lowed up with the two to gauge their re­ac­tions and hear their opin­ions.

‘I am com­pletely be­hind him’

When we spoke with Kennedy in June, he cel­e­brated Don­ald Trump’s pop­ulism, a trait he’s still proud of to­day.

“He is not es­tab­lish­ment,” Kennedy said. “He won be­cause the peo­ple are not be­ing rep­re­sented. We have ca­reer politi­cians that are not in touch with their con­stituents. He is a win­ner in busi­ness and he gets things done.”

Those things he’s got­ten done in­clude ap­point­ing and con­firm­ing Neil Gor­such as an as­so­ci­ate jus­tice of the Supreme Court and re­new­ing the ef­forts to build the Key­stone XL Pipe­line, for ex­am­ple.

An­der­son was also ap­pre­cia­tive of Trump’s pop­ulist ap­proach.

“What drew me to Don­ald Trump was the ‘loose can­non’ at­ti­tude he brought to the elec­tion,” said An­der­son, an al­ter­nate del­e­gate at last year’s Republican Na­tional Con­ven­tion. “Con­sid­er­ing we’ve had the same style of politi­cians for the past 50-plus years, it was re­fresh­ing to see some­one bring a sense of pride in this coun­try back to the game.” Arch Kennedy (l) and Avery An­der­son con­tinue to sup­port Pres­i­dent Trump on most is­sues, but they dis­agree with each other on the re­vo­ca­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama’s trans­gen­der bath­room di­rec­tive. (Cour­tesy pho­tos)

When it comes to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to ban refugees and trav­el­ers from spe­cific Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries, both Kennedy and An­der­son are sup­port­ive of the steps the ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken.

“I am com­pletely be­hind him,” Kennedy con­firmed. “I have stud­ied Is­lam for over two years and fol­lowed Is­lamic ter­ror­ism just as long. He is do­ing what he needs to do to keep us safe.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts were thwarted twice by fed­eral courts that ruled the ex­ec­u­tive or­ders were il­le­gal.

Dif­fer­ing opin­ions on trans bath­room di­rec­tive

Many in the LGBT com­mu­nity point to Trump’s cabi­net as ev­i­dence of pos­si­ble anti-LGBT sen­ti­ment, but Kennedy is un­fazed, if not in full dis­agree­ment, with those who would make such a claim.

“I re­ally don’t care,” he said. “Trump has con­tin­ued to show his sup­port for the gay com­mu­nity. He is the first pres­i­dent to be fine with gay mar­riage [at the time of his elec­tion]. Gays can marry now and that is not go­ing to change or be re­versed. Let’s move on to ac­tual se­ri­ous is­sues that af­fect all Amer­i­cans.”

An­der­son dis­agrees with Trump’s choice of nom­i­nees not be­cause of their anti-LGBT his­to­ries, but be­cause they may not be the most qual­i­fied.

“I think the last thing the United States needs is a group of for­mer CEOs and spe­cial in­ter­est leads be­ing in charge of the peo­ple,” he said.

Per­haps more as a nod to age and com­mu­nity influences, An­der­son fo­cused on the en­tire LGBT com­mu­nity while Kennedy fo­cused specif­i­cally on the gay com­mu­nity. The two di­verged most strik­ingly when dis­cussing the ad­min­is­tra­tions with­drawal of guid­ance on keep­ing trans­gen­der chil­dren safe in pub- lic schools – though for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. An­der­son leans lib­er­tar­ian in his ap­proach. “[It] should never have been an ar­gu­ment,” he said. “Yes, I be­lieve we have plenty of room for all Amer­i­cans re­gard­less of your sta­tus, but I do think we can go about this in dif­fer­ent ways than re­strict­ing some­one’s bath­room use or even let­ting folks go wher­ever they please. My univer­sity has a gen­der neu­tral bath­room sys­tem which al­lows folks to use the fa­cil­i­ties they want. If a trans­gen­der stu­dent wishes to use the male or fe­male re­stroom [based on iden­ti­fi­ca­tion], then sure they can, but we have al­ter­na­tive op­tions to make sure they are ac­com­mo­dated.”

Con­versely, Kennedy ex­pressed his full-throated sup­port for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­vo­ca­tion, say­ing, “It is very sim­ple. If you have man parts, you use the men’s room and locker. If you have fe­male sex­ual parts, you use the women’s locker room. It isn’t fair to put kids in this sit­u­a­tion for a por­tion of pop­u­la­tion that isn’t even 1 per­cent. Once you get the sex change, then you are golden. This does not even de­serve to be a po­lit­i­cal is­sue.“

Ac­cord­ing to a 2010 study by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Trans­gen­der Equal­ity and the Na­tional Gay and Les­bian Task Force, the ma­jor­ity of trans­gen­der peo­ple forego sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion when tran­si­tion­ing, and sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion is not a typ­i­cal form of tran­si­tion for chil­dren or teenagers.

Syria at­tacks, col­lege re­form

Nei­ther man is will­ing to write Trump a blank check though. Kennedy dis­agrees with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­cent at­tacks on Syria, be­liev­ing the US has no place in the Mid­dle East, save for its al­liance with Is­rael and its sanc­tions on Iran.

For his part, An­der­son hopes Trump turns his at­ten­tion to­ward ed­u­ca­tion.

“We need a se­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pub­lic univer­sity sys­tem and to un­der­stand ex­actly where funds are be­ing sent, how tu­ition is be­ing pro­cessed, who the uni­ver­si­ties are hir­ing on to their staff and why stu­dents are now left with a sense of ap­a­thy,” he said. “If we ever ex­pect to ‘Make Amer­ica Great Again,’ then we need to start mak­ing Amer­ica great by help­ing our youth with col­lege re­form, get­ting them the ed­u­ca­tion they’ve paid for and hav­ing them un­der­stand the value of a higher ed­u­ca­tion.”

April 28, 2017

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