Trump shores up evan­gel­i­cal sup­port but alien­ates gays

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY S.A. MILLER

Pres­i­dent Trump played to a friendly crowd Thurs­day at a Faith and Free­dom Coali­tion con­fer­ence, so­lid­i­fy­ing ties to evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers who were in­stru­men­tal in his elec­tion but also alien­at­ing gays that he has strived to em­brace.

The pres­i­dent high­lighted ac­com­plish­ments for which the re­li­gious lead­ers had clam­ored, in­clud­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that al­lows churches and other re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions to be­come more po­lit­i­cally ac­tive.

“You didn’t let me down, and I will never, ever let you down. You know that,” he said to ap­plause at the coali­tion’s Road to Ma­jor­ity Con­fer­ence at a Wash­ing­ton ho­tel.

Mr. Trump vowed to keep fight­ing to pro­tect re­li­gious lib­erty, ex­pand the role of re­li­gion in pub­lic dis­course and make schools more wel­com­ing to re­li­gion.

“Faith in­spires us to be bet­ter, to be stronger, to be more car­ing and giv­ing, and more de­ter­mined to act in self­less and coura­geous de­fense of what is good and what is right,” he said. “It is time to put a stop to the at­tacks on re­li­gion.”

The Rev. Frank Pavone, na­tional di­rec­tor of Priests for Life, said the pres­i­dent’s speech in­spired him to re­dou­ble his ef­forts to en­er­gize pro-life vot­ers in the 2018 elec­tions.

“I could not help but think that there are so many in the church who do not yet re­al­ize what a bless­ing this pres­i­dent is for the church,” he said.

Gay rights lead­ers, how­ever, said that Mr. Trump had let them down.

The pres­i­dent’s ap­pear­ance at the con­fer­ence, which was packed with anti-gay cru­saders, co­in­cided with crit­i­cism that he has yet to rec­og­nize June 2017 as Pride Month de­spite celebrations this month in cities and states across the coun­try to com­mem­o­rate the 1969 Stonewall ri­ots in New York that are con­sid­ered the birth of the modern LGBT move­ment.

Mr. Trump has al­ready pro­claimed June as Na­tional Home­own­er­ship Month, Na­tional Ocean Month, African-Amer­i­can Mu­sic Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Month and Na­tional Caribbean-Amer­i­can Her­itage Month.

The White House did not re­spond to ques­tions about not of­fi­cially rec­og­niz­ing Pride Month.

“It’s shame­ful that the pres­i­dent of the United States has failed to rec­og­nize such a his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant time for the LGBT com­mu­nity,” said David Kilm­nick, CEO of the LGBT Net­work. “Mil­lions of peo­ple across the coun­try rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate June as LGBT Pride Month, which is im­por­tant not only to LGBT Amer­i­cans, but to any Amer­i­can who be­lieves in civil and hu­man rights for all.”

Mr. Trump’s speech came two days be­fore the “Pride Pa­rade” in Wash­ing­ton, part of a week­end of gay pride events in the city. The New York pa­rade is at the end of the month.

The speech also was de­liv­ered less than a week be­fore the first an­niver­sary of the Pulse night­club shoot­ing in Or­lando, where 49 peo­ple were killed at the gay nightspot. The at­tack by a Mus­lim who had pledged al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State was the dead­li­est mass shoot­ing, the worst do­mes­tic ter­ror at­tack and the dead­li­est anti-gay vi­o­lence in U.S. his­tory.

In the wake of the shoot­ing, Mr. Trump made a di­rect ap­peal to gay vot­ers, based in part on his tough line against rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists, who ad­vo­cated death for ho­mo­sex­u­als.

How­ever, gay lead­ers have ac­tively op­posed his pres­i­dency. The gay rights group Hu­man Rights Cam­paign de­clared June as #UniteRe­sistEn­list Month in op­po­si­tion to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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