Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump praised Franklin Graham, a right-wing evangelical minister with a strong anti-gay rights platform, for declaring June 2 as a day “to pray for the President.” Trump first thanked Graham on Twitter and then retweeted nearly a dozen other tweets touting this special day that Graham created to protect Trump from his “enemies.”
Trump’s praise of Graham on the first day of pride month emphasizes what a con man the President truly is. At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump promised “to do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens. … Believe me.” (As a reminder, Trump said the letters “LGBTQ” in such a stilted fashion it sounded like he was reading letters off an eye chart.)
And on May 31, Trump even offered two tweets praising “LGBT pride month” and stated that he stands “in solidarity with the many LGBTQ people who live in dozens of countries worldwide: who are punished or even killed.”
But, in reality, since being sworn in as President, Trump has led a crusade to roll back countless Barack Obama-era regulations that protected the LGBTQ community. And one of the people who has been publicly supportive of these polices has been Graham.
Graham follows a philosophy I like to refer to as “Will hate for Jesus.” He has a long history of fostering hate of the LGBTQ community – and all in the name of his troubling interpretation of Christianity.
If you need proof, consider the following examples: First, Graham, while defending Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson – who caused a firestorm by equating being gay with bestiality – wrote that the “architect behind this offensive (for same sex marriage) is none other than Satan himself.”
He has also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s harsh anti-gay propaganda laws that ban dissemination among children of “propaganda for nontraditional sexual relationships,” and have contributed to an uptick in violence against the LGBT community in Russia. More specifically, Graham wrote that Putin is right to take “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
And Graham has opposed same-sex couples adopting children, explaining in a 2014 interview that he believes the goal of LGBTQ individuals who adopt is to “recruit” children into their “cause.”
And the list goes on.
This is the man who Trump chose to publicly praise on day one of pride month. But that shouldn’t shock anyone who has been paying attention to Trump’s systematic efforts to end protections for the LGBTQ community.
Some of the most painful examples include Trump openly discriminating against transgender Americans by banning them from serving in our military, a move praised by Graham. The Trump administration has also argued in federal court cases that the Civil Rights Act does not protect Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and is expected to argue this position before the US Supreme Court next year in a critical new case.
Added to that, Trump’s administration recently announced a proposed rule that will cruelly allow homeless shelters that receive federal funding to deny entry to people simply for being transgender or gender nonconforming. And, in late May, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services announced it would undo an Obama-era regulation that had prevented discrimination against gay and transgender people as part of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions against sex discrimination.
But it doesn’t stop there. According to Axios, the Trump administration will soon rescind an Obama-era regulation that barred adoption and foster care agencies from receiving federal funding if they refused to work with same-sex couples, thus allowing discrimination against same sex couples seeking to adopt children. (So far, no one from the Trump administration has commented on the report.)
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And, unsurprisingly, Graham and Trump also share other problematic views. Graham, like Trump, has a documented history of ginning up hate of my community, Muslim Americans. In fact, months before Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims coming into America in December 2015, Graham had taken to Facebook advocating for the same, claiming that Muslims kill innocent people “to honor their religion and Muhammad.”
Instead of Graham calling for a day of prayer to protect Trump from his enemies, it would be far better for Graham to pray for himself and for Trump to actually follow the teachings of Jesus to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
But given Graham’s and Trump’s track record, neither is likely to happen. Rather, we can expect Graham to continue advocating anti-LGBTQ hate and for Trump to turn that bigoted philosophy into American policy.