Trump campaign attempts to make headway with LGBTQ+ voters

Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 11:33pm

Richard Grenell speaks at a Trump Pride event in the Ann Arbor Engagement Office Thursday.

Richard Grenell speaks at a Trump Pride event in the Ann Arbor Engagement Office Thursday. Buy this photo
Tess Crowley/Daily

The Trump campaign held a “Trump Pride” event this Thursday in Ann Arbor to appeal to LGBTQ+ voters, with around 30 attendees. Most attendees wore face masks for the duration of the event, but speakers took them off while they were on the podium. Former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, current Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations, headlined the event. Grenell became the highest-ranking openly LGBTQ+ government official in American history, and the only openly LGBTQ+ person to have ever served in the cabinet.

In the 2016 election, only 14% of LGBTQ+ voters reported to have voted for Trump, a stark comparison to the 78% who reported backing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Trump administration has upheld policies that undermine LGBTQ+ rights, including banning transgender people from the military, attempting to remove nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in health care and rolling back other nondiscrimination policies

The event was opened by Adam Schmidt, former U.S. national team figure skater and an LGBTQ+ Trump supporter. Schmidt said the Democratic party is a party of exclusion. 

“They are the party of exclusion; they are cancel culture; they are the opposite of inclusivity, all right. We are the party of inclusivity,” Schmidt said.

Several attendees at the event highlighted their economic interests as one of their principal reasons for supporting President Trump. 

One attendee described how he was excited for the event, specifically for the chance to interact with other individuals who identify as both conservative and gay.

Bill White, former President of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space museum in New York City, highlighted his experiences working with Trump through the 1990s. White went on to criticize Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, just weeks after the FBI foiled a coup attempt. Whitmer has blamed Trump’s rhetoric for inspiring the kidnapping plot. 

“In California, you can recall your governor, can you do that here? Well, we want to help you with that,” White said. 

White also generally criticized Republican Senator and former Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney.

“The funny guy from Utah, who needs to be recalled too, but he gave us the vote for Coney Barret, so thank you, senator,” White said. 

Grenell dismissed criticism of President Donald Trump during his speech.

“You know HRC has a list of 100 things that Donald Trump did to be anti-gay, and you know almost every single one of them are about big government versus small government,” Grenell said.

Grenell was the final speaker and spent a significant amount of time arguing that President Trump has an immense amount of respect for the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Donald Trump was a New Yorker who in the ’80s was around so many gay people and was incredibly impacted by AIDS in New York City,” Grenell said. “(Trump) fundamentally understands what gays have been through. He doesn’t think of us as extra, he doesn’t think of us as anything other than a diverse group of people that are just like every normal American, and that's exactly what we've been asking for.”

Daily News Contributor Julian Barnard can be reached at jcbarn@umich.edu


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