President Donald Trump intends to nominate former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to head the Export-Import Bank, finding a place for a congressman who lost his re-election bid in large part because of anti-gay comments that turned off big financial donors.
In 2015, Garrett told fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he wouldn’t pay his dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee because the organization supported some gay candidates, Politico reported.
Garrett has since clarified that he doesn’t oppose gay people running for office, but he believes the GOP should not support candidates who back same-sex marriage.His comments cost him support from Wall Street donors, who had been a major source of funding for his previous campaigns. It was a notable show of no confidence since the congressman chaired a key House financial services subcommittee, and financial firms would normally want to curry his favor.
Trump recently shifted his position on the Export-Import Bank, telling The Wall Street Journal last week that small companies are “really helped” by the institution. During the 2016 campaign, he’d said the bank was unnecessary.
Similarly, as a congressman, Garrett opposed the Export-Import Bank and called it a “corporate welfare program.”
During the Republican National Convention in July, Trump also promised to protect the LGBTQ community. But he has picked a number of people to join his administration with anti-gay histories.
Trump recently announced his intention to nominate Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R) to be secretary of the Army. Green has said he believes being transgender is a disease and he has sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation in his home state. The previous Army secretary, Eric Fanning, was the first openly gay person to hold the position.
In March, Trump quietly appointed Roger Severino to head the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. Severino previously worked at the conservative Heritage Foundation and has argued that same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty and that civil rights protections should not extend to transgender patients.
HHS Secretary Tom Price has a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights during his time as a congressman from Georgia. Price co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He voted against bills to ban employers from discriminating against gay people and to fight anti-gay hate crimes. He called the Obama administration’s guidelines allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity “absurd.”
Even Trump’s first pick for his administration, Vice President Mike Pence, was well-known for his anti-LGBTQ views. As governor of Indiana, he waged a high-profile fight for “religious freedom,” signing legislation that could have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. After intense national backlash that cost his state economically ― and embarrassed many members of his party ― Pence backed down and signed a revised version of the law.
In February, the Trump administration rescinded that Obama administration policy on transgender students. The policy had mandated that any school receiving federal money had to treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex. The Trump administration, however, says it’s a matter that should be left up to the states.
The New York Times editorial board weighed in Monday on the “L.G.B.T. Trump fallacy.”
“It’s not too late, of course, for Mr. Trump to act like the transformational Republican on gay rights that some of his supporters hoped he would be,” the editorial reads. “He could, for instance, urge Congress to pass a federal anti-discrimination bill. Yet his record of empty talk makes that seem as unlikely as the sight of a Republican presidential candidate waving a gay pride flag.”
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