Trump spoke at the Values Voters Summit conference hosted by the Family Research Council, designated a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Friday, Trump became the first sitting president to speak at the Values Voters Summit (VVS) at their annual conference hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC), designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its extreme views against LGBTI+ people. The FRC’s goal is “to make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society”, according to the SPLC.
Furthermore, according to SPLC the “VVS has traditionally provided an ongoing platform not only for strident anti-LGBT and anti-choice views, but also anti-immigrant — and in particular — anti-Muslim views, a nod to the growing cross-pollination between the anti-LGBT Christian Right and the anti-Muslim lobby”.
Trump begun his speech saying,
“It’s great to be back here with so many friends at the 2017 Values Voter Summit, and we know what that means”
He stressed that:
“America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.
George Washington said that religion and morality are indispensable … to America’s prosperity… The American founders invoked our creator four times in the declaration of independence.
I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected, and defended like you have never seen before.
To protect religions liberties including groups like this one, I signed a new executive action … on our national day of prayer.
We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors, our ministers, our rabbis, these are the people we want to hear from, and they’re not going to be silenced any longer. We will not let bureaucrats … take away their calling or take away their rights.
We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.”
He then vowed to further promulgate religious values: “They don’t use the word Christmas because it is not politically correct,” Trump bemoaned.
“Well, guess what? We’re saying Merry Christmas again,” he added, which drew another roaring applause from VVS participants..
“We know that it is the family and the church, not government officials that know best how to create strong and loving communities. And above all we know that in America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.”
He then proceeded to say that America faces dangers, calling Iran “a terrorist nation,” and vowing: “We will confront the dangers that imperil our nations, our allies around the world, including the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.
“We will defend our faith and protect our traditions.”
During the VVS event, participants received flyers that promoted an “important new book” called “The Health Hazards of Homosexuality.”
The president is addressing the Values Voter Summit today. Here’s what they’re giving guests in a swag bag: “The Hazards of Homosexuality” pic.twitter.com/eRufvSncc0
— David Mack (@davidmackau) October 13, 2017
“Finally: the truth about this public health crisis,” the flyer reads. Further saying that “‘gay and lesbian sexual practices” are dangerous to the “broader public.”
The flyer also added that “homosexual and bisexual men” are to blame for “the recent increases in STDs.” The book, authored by the Massachusetts-based anti-LGBTI group MassResistance, according to the flyer blames the “disproportionate incidence of disease and mental disorders in the GLB community.”
“The sexual revolution and mainstreaming of homosexuality have created a public health crisis affecting us all,” the flyer reads.
A brief preview of the book in Amazon details the topics it explores: “Why homosexuality is a public health issue, and not just a private issue”; “The mental health issues: depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance use, partner abuse, and BDSM (bondage/sexual sadomasochism)”; “Why homosexuals have shortened lifespans, chronic conditions, lower quality of life”; “The psychological and medical issues of transgenderism”; and “Child abuse: interventions supporting ‘transgender’ identities in youth.”
The book claims it is backed by Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), yet despite the authoritative sounding name, the ACP is a small anti-LGBTI group composed of a few hundred members, according to the SPLC.
Key leaders who are notoriously anti-LGBTI and anti-Muslim are gathering throughout this weekend at VVS, along with Trump and his former strategist and Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon.
Sharing the VVS stage with Trump are former Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who has said he wants to “rid the Earth” of “wicked” gays. Senate candidate Roy Moore, also present at VVS, previously said he was unsure if LGBTI should be killed and was recently removed as a state supreme court justice for ordering state employees to disregard the US Supreme Court ruling in favour of marriage equality.
A statement by SPLC said: “A look at the 2017 speaker roster indicates just how closely aligned the anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT groups really are. At least 10 of the speakers are representatives of anti-Muslim organisations or have a well-documented history of espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric. These include figures like Brigitte Gabriel, head of ACT for America, the largest anti-Muslim group in the country who has said that practicing Muslims ‘cannot be loyal citizens of the United States” and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim think tank Centre for Security Policy (CSP) who said of Somali refugees in 2015, ‘I don’t know about you, but it kind of creeps me out that they are getting jobs in the food supply of the United States’.”
Trump, who is meeting resistance in Congress on several issues, has shifted his focus onto a more conservative base of voters by passing executive orders and making speeches in order to garner political capital.
The US Justice Department issued a directive last week protecting “the right to perform or abstain from performing certain physical acts in accordance with one’s beliefs”, in essence legalising discrimination against LGBTI people on the basis of religion.
In addition, the Trump administration also has been removing protections for transgender people.
According to CNN, “Trump’s emphasis could shape his policy efforts in the upcoming months. His administration is working to reverse a tax-code provision preventing churches from endorsing politicians, withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood, and engage in legal disputes against LGBT people claiming bias and in favour of Christian individuals or entities who say, for example, that they are being excluded from secular aid programs or have been penalised for declining to serve gay customers”.
Muslim and LGBTI groups have come together and critiqued Trump’s speech and the VVS.
Speaking with Conatus News, Ani Zonneveld, founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), a faith-based, grassroots, organisation said:
“The values espoused by this conference and by Trump are the antithesis of American values. As an American organisation, we will challenge these un-patriotic traitors who have successfully taken over our beloved country. We have called Trump unfit to be president of this great country, and we are doubling down on this call.
“The hateful nature of this conference is rife with anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTI rhetoric replete with literature, institutions establishing fake, authoritative-sounding names, not worthy of a mention.
“We are Americans, we help each other, not hate on each other”.
Melanie Nathan, LGBTI activist and Executive Director of African Human Rights Coalition, based in California, told Conatus News:
“The mere appearance of Donald Trump at the VVS is indicative of a divisive president, who has served so far only to stroke the hairy backs of his base, of hate groups, Nazis, KKK and their sympathisers.
“His reflection on the recent Jeff Sessions anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ guidance endorses license for homophobic attacks on LGBTI Americans, through the misguided notion that religious freedoms depend on inequality.
“His speech was a testament to how he is systematically attempting to devour and destroy President Obama’s legacy. It was a speech so coated and sprinkled with hateful glee, that it is clear to me Trump would rather continue to tickle the fancy of his base than lead in the interests of the American people. He is courting a relative handful at the expense of so many millions.
“What remains unfortunate is that the Republican Party, in their silence, continues to be complicit. Let us hope that his unconscionable attendance at this event and the speech that went with it kicks the Democrats into full speed to do what is needed so that they defeat this abomination in the coming elections.”
Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation told ConatusNews:
“Trump increasingly aligns himself with right-wing political and religious movements that all recent presidents would have shunned. Speaking at this event is further evidence of his collusion with anti-Muslim, misogynists, and homophobes who oppose LGBTI equality, women’s reproductive rights and life-saving HIV prevention education.
“The organisations represented in VVS are also religious sectarians. They stir prejudice against Muslims, fuelling the far-right and playing into the hands of hard-line Islamists.”
You can watch the full video of President Donald Trump’s address to the VVS here.
Journalist who specialises in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism.