Trump ‘honored’ by praise as ‘pro-gay president,’ after support from bishops on transgender and conscience policy

shutterstock 1585235176 President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in December, 2019. | Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock

President Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday night that he was honored by a video that described him as "the most pro-gay president in American history," and lauded his support for same-sex marriage.

For their part, the U.S. bishops have expressed support for several administration decisions related to the issues of transgenderism and conscience protection, and the president has faced criticism for this decisions from many pro-LGBT groups.

But the pro-LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans tweeted a video on Wednesday morning calling Trump "the most pro-gay president in American history," to which Trump responded on Twitter that night, saying it was "My great honor!!!"

Ric Grenell, Trump's former acting director of national intelligence and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, appeared in the video endorsing Trump's re-election. Grennel, who identified himself as "America's first openly gay cabinet member," said that the incumbent president "has done more to advance the rights of gays and lesbians in three years than Joe Biden did in 40-plus years in Washington."

Before donning a rainbow-colored "Make America Great Again" hat, Grennell said in the video that "Donald Trump is the first president in American history to be pro-gay marriage from his first day in office."

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual acts are "sins gravely contrary to chastity," those who identify as gay or lesbian should "be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

The Church also teaches that marriage is an institution of natural law and exists between one man and one woman. 

In 2003, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explained that "The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions."

During Biden's decades in Congress, he supported the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which excluded men and women identifying as gay or lesbian from the U.S. military. He also voted for the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Clinton, which recognized legal marriage as between one man and one woman. 

While Biden was vice president, however, the Justice Department stopped defending Section 3 of DOMA in court, and Obama signed a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Biden, who officiated a same-sex wedding in 2016 while he was vice president, publicly assented to same-sex marriage in 2012, after he had already been vice president for four years, prodding President Barack Obama to do the same just days later. 

In the video on Wednesday, Grenell criticized Biden's changing stances on marriage, saying that "now that we've made progress, Joe Biden has changed his mind." Meanwhile, he called Trump "the strongest ally that gay Americans have ever had in the White House."

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump said that people should be free to use whatever public bathroom they wish to, regardless of their biological sex. Shortly after his election as president, he said he was "fine" with same-sex marriage as the law of the land.

In his 2019 speech to the UNGA, the president said that the U.S. stands in "solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that  make homosexual activity a crime.

Grennell said that Trump "publicly challenged the 69 countries who make being gay a crime" in his 2019 speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He also cited the U.S. fight against the Lebanese Shi'ite Islamic party Hezbollah, recognized by the U.S. as a terror organization and which Grenell called "homophobic and barbaric." He also noted the administration's hardline stance against the Iranian regime, known for its public executions of people with same-sex attraction.

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Contrasting the assessment of the Log Cabin Republicans, the head of the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign has called Trump the "worst president ever" on LGBT issues.

Trump's health department has rolled back the Obama-era mandate that doctors provide gender-transition surgery upon request; a federal judge put a temporary halt on implementation of the rule on Monday. That decision was praised by the U.S. bishops' conference.

In June, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch-nominated by Trump-sided with the Court's majority and ruled that federal protections against sex discrimination also apply in cases of someone's sexual orientation and gender identity. After the Court handed his administration another defeat, this time on the DACA immigration program, Trump blasted the "horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court."

Pope Francis has spoken out repeatedly against gender theory and ideology. Speaking at the United Nations in 2015, the pope urged world leaders to embrace a consistent stance on respect for life and the created world and "recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman, and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions." 

The pope has also called gender theory "evil" and "dangerous," saying blurring and erasing the natural distinctions between men and women would "destroy at its roots" God's creation of humanity in "diversity, distinction." 

"It would make everything homogenous, neutral," Francis was quoted saying in a book published earlier this year. "It is an attack on difference, on the creativity of God and on men and women."

On June 10, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education released a document which included a sweeping denunciation of so-called gender theory and the "radical separation between gender and sex, with the former having priority over the later."

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"In all such [gender] theories, from the most moderate to the most radical, there is agreement that one's gender ends up being viewed as more important than being of male or female sex," the Congregation for Catholic Education wrote in the document entitled "Male and Female He Created Them."

"The effect of this move is chiefly to create a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism, and secondarily a juridical revolution, since such beliefs claim specific rights for the individual and across society."

Trump's administration has also not filled a special envoy position at the State Department tasked with advising the secretary on promoting LGBT ideology abroad; the Obama administration was the first to create such a position at State, and Biden has said he will "immediately appoint" a special envoy.

In 2017, Trump issued an executive order on promoting religious freedom as a policy of his administration. Later that fall, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance for other federal agencies, identifying various statutory religious freedom protections. The U.S. bishops' conference "commended" the administration for its conscience protections in that case.

In one prominent case of a religious freedom claim versus an anti-discrimination measure-Fulton v. City of Philadelphia-the Justice Department sided with the Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, saying the U.S. "has a substantial interest in the preservation of the free exercise of religion."

In that case, the city terminated its contract with Catholic Social Services unless it agreed to match foster children with same-sex couples. The administration, in its friend-of-the-court brief in June, said the city's rules "reflect unconstitutional hostility toward Catholic Social Services' religious beliefs."

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