From Stonewall to Stonewalling: Democrats and Gay Rights

From Stonewall to stonewalling, such is the history of the Democratic Party’s record toward gays and lesbians. Yesterday, President Trump rewrote history by relegating Democrats to a footnote in the history of a movement that, at its best, is not about more rights for some people but the same rights for all people. Without biting his lip or biding his time, without searching for specific guarantees that have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance, without the need to evolve—and free of the hypocrisy of his predecessors—the president said, in an instant, what neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama ever said in office, from the Oval Office: that the United States seeks to end the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.

That the world’s worst countries have the worst laws against homosexuals—that these countries make the Stone Age look like the Age of Enlightenment—is no coincidence. To the world, the president all but said the West is better than the rest. And so it is; and so we are, because we do not persecute homosexuals. We do not torment them. We do not torture them. We do not murder them by hanging them, in public, from construction cranes. We do not condemn behavior we oppose by behaving like barbarians—period.

While this may be news to the president’s critics, it is not a new attitude by the president. Trump not only spoke in defense of gay rights before he was president, during his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, but he also spoke with pride when the audience applauded his defense.

What Trump never did was speak defensively or ambiguously about the rights of gays and lesbians. He spoke like a leader, while his opponent spoke like a Democrat.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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