By Julia Taliesin
President Donald J. Trump addressed attendees of the Values Voter Summit as the keynote speaker on Friday, Oct. 13 in Washington D.C.
This summit is an annual conference hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC), a group whose mission, according to its website, is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.” FRC is also designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Founded in 1983, FRC is known to actively work against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, and anti-bullying laws. Trump, who also spoke at this conference last year, was the first sitting president to speak at an anti-LGBT conference.
As the proud daughter of two lesbian moms, this alone made me extremely angry, but as I watched his speech, one small sentence put me over the edge: “How times have changed, but you know what? Now they’re changing back again, just remember that.” Can you get more sinister than that? I was hardly surprised, as this is not exactly new information from our president, but it was hearing it in the context of this summit that made it all feel more real again.
It was not so long ago that same-sex marriage was legalized federally. That month was the first time I saw my parents walk down the street holding hands. Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, they learned a kind of caution around expressing gay identity.
Hearing Trump say he wants to change times back, I realized I have been living in a bubble, hoping beyond reason that federally legalizing gay marriage would make those opposed at least give up. The complete opposite has happened. I always knew those people were there, that they never went away, but this culture of bigots and white supremacists feeling comfortable enough to march in public is frightening. They do not fear persecution, especially not when their president refuses to condemn them, even speaking at their conferences referring to them as “friends.”
The FRC and their “values” voters are a threat to my family. They routinely publish so-called “facts” that say, “homosexual and lesbian relationships are far more violent than are traditional married households,” something proven to be untrue. I am scared and sad for my family, and we are so privileged: we are all white, lower middle class, cis-identifying people, and we live in the Northeast. My parents also own a business, making them less vulnerable to workplace discrimination. But this snippet, said to thunderous applause and shouts of approval, reminded me that an emboldened anti-LGBT public who feels supported by our presidential administration creates a culture in which my parents are no longer comfortable publicly holding hands.
They say that dialogue is important, and that we have to talk about the issues with those who “disagree” with us. It has been extremely painful to do this, to engage in conversation with people who seek to delegitimize the existence of my family. This has been particularly difficult when it is my own extended family or close friends who try to justify their vote for Trump. I have no interest in explaining to my godmother why she should be angry that the president she voted for is seeking to delegitimize her best friends’ family.
By engaging in an even political discussion, I acknowledge that the views of these “values voters” are valid, rational, and deserving of a place at the table. I am not interested in legitimizing the views of those who do not believe my family should be allowed to exist. It is alarming and frightening to have a president who shares their “values.”