Homophobia and transphobia got a platform at the Republican National Convention Tuesday night.
The chief transphobe and homophobe on display was Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of Franklin Graham — a major anti-LGBTQ+ activist and one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters from the Christian right — and granddaughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham.
Lynch hailed Trump as a champion of religious freedom and excoriated Democrats, particularly the administration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, while using anti-transgender stereotypes and supporting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
“Democrats tried to force adoption agencies to violate their deeply held beliefs,” she said. “Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls’ sports and use girls’ locker rooms.” But this changed with the election of Trump, she said, who has been a “fierce advocate” for people of faith, “ensured religious ministries would not be forced to violate their beliefs,” and “withdrew the policies that placed our little girls at risk.”
One of those statements referred to ongoing legal disputes about allowing trans girls (not boys) to compete in girls’ school sports. Those who oppose the participation of trans girls contend they have an inherent advantage over cisgender girls, but this is widely disputed — and training, body size, and other characteristics can provide an advantage to athletes.
She was also referring to the Trump administration’s withdrawal of Obama-era guidelines advising schools to allow trans students access to the restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that comport with their gender identity — as well as to respect those students’ names and pronouns. Trans students often suffer negative mental and physical health consequences when marginalized in schools. And her statement about “little girls at risk” paints trans people as predators.
On adoption and foster care, the Trump administration has reversed another Obama-era policy, which had prohibited anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination by agencies that receive federal funds for child welfare services. The Trump Justice Department has also filed a brief in an upcoming Supreme Court case over whether a city can deny funds to agencies that discriminate, with the administration arguing that such a policy violates the agencies’ religious freedom. But both of these instances involve the use of taxpayer funds; the agencies can do whatever they wish when their services are privately funded.
LGBTQ+ groups were quick to call Lynch out. “This convention seems to be embracing a theme of weaponizing religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Cissie Graham Lynch is sadly not alone in her bigoted, inaccurate beliefs, as the Trump administration has been working hand in hand with anti-LGBTQ activists like her from day one. The record is clear — from arguing all the way to the Supreme Court against LGBTQ workers and adoptive parents, to speaking out against transgender girls — Lynch and anti-LGBTQ activists like her undeniably have an ally in the Trump administration, while LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender people, face rising numbers of policy rollbacks and growing levels of discrimination.”
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David also issued a statement, saying, “We knew this rhetoric would come from allies of a president dedicated to attacking LGBTQ people at every opportunity. What is particularly shameful is the targeting of some of the most vulnerable in our community: transgender kids. Cissie Graham Lynch’s comments were despicable and must be widely condemned by anyone who claims to be an ally of LGBTQ people. To Trump and his allies: We fight for our community and will see you at the ballot box.”
Meanwhile, another granddaughter of Billy Graham weighed in Tuesday with an anti-Trump message, although not at the convention. Jerushah Duford, Lynch’s cousin and Franklin’s niece, published an op-ed in USA Today arguing that Christian women should oppose Trump because of his “disrespect and misogyny.”
Also appearing Tuesday at the convention were Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida, who notably fought to keep marriage equality from coming to her state. She did not discuss LGBTQ+ issues but instead described what she termed the corruption of Joe Biden and his son Hunter when Hunter served on the board of an energy company in Ukraine. She claimed that Joe Biden’s influence helped the company and that Biden called for the firing of a prosecutor who was investigating the firm.
The Washington Post notes that Trump, regarding the matter, has “shamelessly spun a web of allegations based on flimsy evidence, repeated at the Republican National Convention by Bondi.” Joe Biden opposed the prosecutor for other reasons, and there is no proof of wrongdoing by him or his son in the situation. Trump was impeached because he put pressure on Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens, although he was ultimately acquitted.
Another speaker was Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who touted Trump’s aid to farmers (when his actions have arguably worsened the farm economy). She has checkered history with trans people, having signed a law allowing the state to deny Medicaid funding for transition-related care.
The rest of the day and evening were devoted to speakers putting positive and generally misleading or outright false spins on Trump’s handing of the economy, foreign policy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. Check back to Advocate.com for additional coverage.