A White House press aide has dismissed the notion that President Donald Trump can be any way linked to a rise in anti-LGBTQ hate groups in the US.
White House spokesman Judd Deere, who is himself gay, was responding to a document produced by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC recently published its annual report on hate groups in the US. It found that the number of what it identifies as hate groups fell from a record of 1,020 in 2018 to 940 in 2019. However, within these figures, there was a 43% increase in anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
It stated, “The Trump administration has demonstrated a clear willingness to embrace [hate group] leaders and their policy agenda.”
It notes, “Anti-LGBTQ groups have become intertwined with the Trump administration, and—after years of civil rights progress and growing acceptance among the broader American public—anti-LGBTQ sentiment within the Republican Party is rising.
“Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, in fact, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019—expanding from 49 in 2018 to 70 in 2019, a nearly 43% increase.”
Trump administration appointments include making Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, (FRC) the Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The FRC has previously been identified as a hate group by the SPLC.
Deere was asked about the report by NBC. In a statement, he called SPLC a “far-left smear” organization and called its comments “disgusting.”
“While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships,” said Deere.
“He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality … And the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years,” he added.
Deere was appointed to the position of Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary in January 2019. Last summer, Deere gave an interview to Buzzfeed in which he talked of his role at the White House.
“I’ve clearly been hired, and promoted since I’ve got here, and I’m completely open about who I am … These individuals that I work with in this building don’t treat me any differently because I’m gay.”
He has consistently defended the President’s record on LGBTQ rights, such as voicing support for bakers who don’t want to make cakes for same-sex weddings (“I’ll just go find another cake shop that will,” said Deere), and Trump’s ban on trans people in the military. Deere says the ban is necessary as having trans people openly serve can “erode military readiness.”
Deere said in the interview, “The president opposes discrimination and hates violence, all of that, in any form.”
Others disagree. Advocacy group GLAAD is keeping a running count of attacks the Trump administration has made on LGBTQ people. It currently stands at 136 anti-LGBTQ statements or measures during Trump’s 1,168 days in office so far.