Donald Trump, You Are Not My Voice

My dog Indigo is only five months old. But she listened to Donald Trump one night and now she looks like this.

Last night, in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention Donald Trump said he’d fight for LGBTQ Americans, and the convention cheered. Trump looked surprised, and then noted, “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”

It was nice, if — like everything else about this convention — a little surreal. Trump, in his own way, has been somewhat supportive of our community over the last decade or so, including his support of transgender women competing in the Miss Universe pageant, which he owns. He also said earlier this year that Caitlyn Jenner was welcome to use the ladies room in his gold-flaked towers. (Video of the blessed event can be seen here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/28/caitlyn-jenner-uses-trump-tower-ladies-room-takes-a-shot-at-ted-cruz.html)

I’m grateful for any progress forward, and Trump’s statement is progress, of a kind. So was the appearance of Paypal founder Peter Thiel at the podium, a man who is openly and proudly gay, although his passing reference to the North Carolina bathroom imbroglio seemed, to me, to fail to understand the stakes for trans people there and nationwide. )

If it was a night in which the folks at the podium failed to hate-on-the-gays, however, the job had surely been attended to by the Republican platform itself, which was the most shockingly anti-gay and anti-trans set of policies in history. The New York Times reported, “The platform also makes homophobia and the denial of basic civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people a centerpiece. It repudiates same-sex marriage, despite strong support for this constitutional right in the nation at large. The party invokes “natural marriage” and states’ rights for determining which bathrooms transgender people may use, and it defends merchants who would deny service to gay customers.”

Trump has also said he’s eager to appoint judges to the Supreme Court in the mold of Anton Scalia, and that the trans bathroom issue should be “left up to the states.”

And so, there on the dias — and to some extent, in the hall — we had a strangely positive set of visuals for LGBTQ inclusion, while the meat-and-potatoes policies in the platform were diabolical and cruel.

I am glad for a few gestures in the right direction — Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance on Wednesday at an off-site discussion was another one, where the lifelong Republican admitted that the Democrats have been better on the issue of LGBTQ equality than her own party.

But these gestures don’t mask the reality of Republican policies in this country that have profoundly made life harder for people like me.

As he accepted the nomination, Trump said, “I am your voice.”

Donald, you’re not my voice. Even if you do speak well of people like me — or at least better than many others in the GOP.

Because when I speak, I speak with love and with compassion for people who are different. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a thing I strive for. And when I say different, I mean LGBTQ people, but that’s not the only people I mean.

Donald, you’re not my voice.

When I say different, I mean people of color. And I mean people who were born outside our borders. But those aren’t the only people I mean.

Donald, you’re not my voice.

When I say different, I mean people with disabilities. And I mean people who depend on good, affordable health care to survive. But those aren’t the only people I mean.

Donald, you’re not my voice.

When you say you’re going to make America great again, I can only remind you, America is already great. It’s great because of our diversity, because of how many different ways there are of being an American, because our motto of e pluribus unum means — out of many, one. We cannot make the country one by all of us being the same. We can only achieve this by celebrating all of us, by understanding that no single person is more American than anyone else.

I hope you will agree, and that in time you will see that the best emotion to stir up in this country is not hate, but love; that the best call to action is involvement, not violence; that hope — as audacious as it always is — is better than despair.

Donald, we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Those, of course, are not my words, but Lincoln’s. But I have to say, as a Democrat, “it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”