“I, Donald J. Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Yes, those words were actually spoken on January 20, 2017. The reverberation of these words still lingered in the air as entities began to disappear all over Washington, DC. Even as this oath was being administered, the Magician-in-Chief had his minions using the admin password to make a variety of pages and links disappear from the White House website. The LGBTQ page—Gone! The Climate Change page—Vanished! The Civil Rights page—Purged! The Regulations page—Departed! The Spanish language version of the website—Adios!
Prior to January 20, a public comment line was included in the White House website. This forum, staffed by volunteers, took calls from citizens. As of noon on January 20, questioners have been directed to contact the White House or President Trump himself via Facebook Messenger. Oops! Facebook Messenger accounts have not yet been set up.
What is disconcerting about these website disappearances is the likelihood that not only have the webpages on these important issues vanished, but the priorities and policies of this administration will soon reflect what has changed. Every president has the liberty of crafting the White House site to reflect what the new Chief Executive has deemed important. (And this goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln, according to some unnamed internet sources!) Beyond that, however, the White House website is a manifestation of the core issues and direction toward which the President determines to lead this country.
Rob Flaherty, of the Human Rights Campaign, stated, “We’re very concerned about the initial steps the Trump administration is taking on LGBTQ rights. He needs to make it clear whether he is going to be an ally to the LGBTQ community or not.” Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, declared, “It’s a really bad sign. At this point we have to assume they’re hostile to us.” For their part, a White House spokesperson explained, “We have a team currently working on this project. President Trump was very clear in his inaugural speech, and at other times, that he is very supportive of LGBTQ rights, and this will be reflected in this administration.”
If President Trump (saying that still catches in my throat) has been direct about anything during his campaign and his brief tenure as leader of this nation, it has been more by default than by design. What has become crystal clear thus far in the first few days of Trump’s leadership is that he has a bigly fragile ego. When pictures of President Obama’s inaugural crowd were juxtaposed with Trump’s recent inaugural crowd, it was quite evident that the 2009 crowd far exceeded the 2017 crowd. The National Mall was full-to-overflowing at the first of two Obama inaugurations, but much less so at Trump’s.
The faux-fury with which Sean Spicer read his Trump-endorsed statement was evidence enough of Spicer being given “marching orders” to set the record straight on the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd. (It was amusing in its own way that this “press conference” was labeled as Spicer’s “hostage video.”) Aside from Spicer’s 1980’s-era suit, his words attempted to take to task the liberal media’s bias against all things Trump. Then the rationale for this irrational perspective came into focus. The contrasting pictures, we were told, did not factor in the mats that were used, for the first time, to protect the Mall grass. Conveniently missing in this explanation was that mats were also used at the 2013 Obama inauguration.
Of all the significant issues facing a new President of the United States, this one chose to address—and challenge—such an issue that was, at best, a two-minute story in the press. This story came to life in a matter of minutes once Trump chose to bring attention to it, and demand that his Press Secretary chastise the press for their complicity in portraying the new President as less popular than his predecessor. The Magician-in-Chief made dignity, humility, and honesty vanish in a flash.
What has become evident in the first two weeks of President Trump’s administration is that the voices of the people will be heard! Shortly after the comparison of the Obama and Trump inaugural crowds, the size of the crowd at the Women’s March became the new point of reference. The united voices of hundreds of thousands of women—and the men who joined them—were heard not only in Washington, DC, but across this nation and around the world. And again, as these words are being typed, the united voices of protestors at airports in our country are being heard, as they attempt to stop the newly-inked Executive Order halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Opponents of all things gay are fond of quoting Bible verses which seemingly condemn homosexuality, including citations from Leviticus. Regarding a ban on travel for those from seven specific countries, we could reply with this verse: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34.
The voices of the disenfranchised, the oppressed, and those who suffer at the hands of powerful politicos need to be heard. Any time that they cannot speak for themselves, others—we—must raise voices for them. The voices of the LGBTQ community will be heard on the weekend of June 9-11, as the Washington Pride Fest partners with a national call to march. Let’s lift our voices here in Rehoboth and in every place this publication finds itself. Ours are voices crying out for respect, for justice, and for what is right.