Roseanne Barr believes President Donald Trump is a “friend” to the gays indeed.
The TV star sat down for an interview with the New York Times ahead of Tuesday’s premiere of the Roseanne reboot, which Barr has promised would be MAGA-centric. Like the actress who plays her, the classic sitcom’s protagonist, Roseanne Conner, is being portrayed as a Trump supporter.
When asked by Times reporter Patrick Healy how someone who was a trailblazer for queer representation on TV could support someone opposed to LGBTQ rights, Barr claims the president “doesn’t oppose same-sex marriage.”
“He doesn’t favor it,” Healy asserts. “He has not come out in favor of it.”
“[Trump] does,” Barr responds. “Yes, he does. He has said it several times, you know, that he’s not homophobic at all.”
Here, the comedienne is parroting an oft-repeated claim: that the POTUS is an ally to queer and trans people. During the 2016 election, an article published in Healy’s publication claimed Trump, then a contender for the GOP nomination, was “more accepting” of LGBTQ issues than his Republican peers.
“He has nurtured long friendships with gay people, employed gay workers in prominent positions, and moved with ease in industries where gays have long exerted influence, like entertainment,” claimed the Times’ Maggie Haberman.
Trump himself has been happy to fan the flames of that misconception.
After the 2016 attack on Pulse nightclub, the president said he would be a better ally to the LGBTQ community than Democrat Hillary Clinton if elected to office. His vision of the United States, he claimed, was one “where gay and lesbian Americans and all Americans are safe from radical Islam.”
“She’s no friend of women,” he said of Clinton. “And she’s no friend of LGBTQ Americans. No friend, believe me.”
Whether LGBTQ Americans are safe from Trump’s policies has proven the more pressing question. Since the Republican was inaugurated in January 2017, critics say his administration has chipped away at protections for queer and trans people in employment, schools, healthcare, and most recently, the armed forces.
Shortly after taking office, the White House rolled back Obama-era guidance advising schools to treat trans students in a manner consistent with their gender identity and repealed an executive order preventing bias against LGBTQ federal employees.
More recently, the administration restructured the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow health care workers to deny services on the basis of faith. And on Friday, Trump released the latest iteration of his policy banning transgender people from military servicewhich has been blocked by at least four federal courts.
But more to Barr’s point: The president has not come out in favor of same-sex marriage.
During a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, Trump claimed his personal views on marriage equality are “irrelevant,” calling the matter “settled.” But prior to that sitdownwhich is hardly an endorsement of LGBTQ rightshe vowed to “strongly consider” appointing judges who would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex unions.
Despite the president’s anti-LGBTQ remarks, Barr defends Trump to the Times by claiming he voices her principles “quite well.”
Her show, however, would disagree with that statement. After debuting on ABC on 1998, Roseanne was one of the first primetime programs to air a same-sex kissshared between Barr and guest star Mariel Hemingway. It was also the first show to feature a gay wedding. In the reboot, Darlene’s nine-year-old son, Mark, is genderfluid.
Barr is typically cagey when commenting on the impact of these groundbreaking depictions of LGBTQ life. The characters were “important,” she eventually assents.
“I wouldn’t have taken the heat that I took if I didn’t think it was an important thing to do,” Barr claims. “Just like now. I’m taking a lot of heat, and if I didn’t think that I was right and that it was important, by God, I wouldn’t be doing it.”