LGBT elected officials representing millions of Americans from across the country are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to respect LGBT Americans and continue efforts to advance equality. In an open letter to the President-elect, 156 elected officials express grave concerns about his Cabinet appointees, and implore Trump to “be a president for all Americans.” The letter is signed by U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Mark Pocan, as well as openly LGBT mayors, state legislators, city council members, and other LGBT elected officials.
“These LGBT elected officials represent America at its best – diverse leaders who make the values of inclusion, fairness and justice the cornerstone of their policy positions and decision-making,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory Institute. “This letter urges the President-elect to govern by those core American values, and to put forward legislation and policies that improve quality of life for all Americans. They are using their collective voice to demand continued progress on equality, and to make clear they will oppose any efforts that threaten our rights or families.”
The full letter is below:
Dear President-elect Donald Trump:
Congratulations on being elected the 45th President of the United States. We are 156 proud lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elected officials representing millions of constituents, and we urge you to join us in embodying the highest ideals of our great and diverse nation.
The long and divisive presidential campaign is over, and now more than 300 million Americans depend on you to bring our nation together. To do this, we ask you deescalate the hostility and intolerance expressed by a small but vocal minority throughout the election season. We ask you appoint individuals with inclusive policy solutions that aim to better the lives of all Americans. And we ask you declare full support for LGBT equality, and remain true to earlier statements promising to be a president supportive of our rights.
We believe in an America that values and accepts everyone, and a country that strives to improve quality of life for all people, regardless of their background or beliefs. These principles are what distinguish America in an often-troubled world – they are what make America great. And it is the elected leadership of our nation that determines whether our government embodies or undermines those ideals. It is elected leaders like ourselves – from the U.S. president to city councilmembers – that either appeal to the better angels of our fellow Americans, or use fear and rancor to spur unproductive discord.
While we hope you appeal to those better angels and support inclusive and fair-minded policies, we have grave concerns given the individuals appointed to your administration thus far. Nearly all hold anti-LGBT views aimed at denying our community acceptance and inclusion in American society. Many proudly tout legislative records opposing basic rights for LGBT Americans, and others express disdain for our lives and relationships. Intended or not, these appointments signal a Trump administration preparing to rollback recent advances for LGBT people, and an administration opposed to LGBT people living open and free.
Our concern is not unfounded, given our historic gains are recent and vulnerable. Openly LGBT men and women can now proudly serve in the Armed Forces; committed same-sex couples can legally marry nationwide; federal contractors can no longer discriminate against LGBT employees or job applicants; the U.S. State Department is leading the world in advancing global LGBT equality; and more than 300 openly LGBT individuals were appointed to positions in the federal government over the past eight years. These hard-fought advances transformed our place in American society, and we are disturbed that most of your appointees opposed these efforts.
Mr. President-elect, our nation will be weaker if LGBT military personnel are prevented from serving openly and equally. America will be worse off if discrimination protections for LGBT government employees or students are revoked. The entire country will suffer if there is a national attempt to implement “religious exemptions” that allow businesses to turn away LGBT customers. And the world will be a darker place without America speaking against anti-LGBT violence and injustices abroad. We need you to vocally reject our country moving backward – to reject the anti-LGBT positions of your appointees and promise a pro-equality Trump administration.
We also must emphasize the LGBT community is as diverse as our nation. We are black, we are Latino, we are white, we are immigrants, we are Muslim, we are Jewish, we are women, and we are people with disabilities. LGBT elected officials know well the sting and consequences of discrimination, injustice and intolerance, and we carry that lived experience into our policy positions, legislation and decision-making. We hold central the American values of fairness, justice and liberty – and ensure these values are the foundation for our work as public servants. As the nation debates economic security, immigration, women’s rights, voting rights, policing, and mass incarceration, we ask you also apply the American values of fairness, justice and liberty, and ensure the best interests of all communities are incorporated into your policies and positions.
Americans of every political party, ideology, race, ethnicity and religion support LGBT equality – it does not need to be a partisan issue. As elected officials, we understand support for LGBT equality as both morally appropriate and politically shrewd. History looks fondly upon leaders who stand for social justice when those around them argue otherwise. History also views harshly those who fail to recognize and support morally righteous causes – and history will undoubtedly view LGBT equality as both moral and righteous.
We sincerely hope you aim to be a president for all Americans – including LGBT Americans of every race, ethnicity, gender and religion. As representatives of the LGBT community, we will hold your administration accountable for actions that infringe upon our rights and opportunities, and will oppose presidential appointees who denigrate or harm our community. But we much prefer to work with you to continue the incredible progress toward LGBT equality – to have you stand with us on the right side of history. We hope you voice your support for existing rights and protections for LGBT Americans, and commit to furthering LGBT equality during your presidency. We promise to be a strong and persistent voice for equality either way.