Donald Trump’s White House didn’t make space to acknowledge Pride Month last June, but it did open the door for anti-LGBTQ hate groups this week.
Today, the White House welcomed Tyson Langhofer, an attorney at theAlliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and vehement anti-LGBTQ activist Charlie Kirk at its “Generation Next” forum aimed at millennials. It also hosted a panel moderated by Mercedes Schlapp, Trump’s director of strategic communications and a decorated anti-LGBTQ activist.
The forum was intended to tout Trump’s stance on addressing the opioid epidemic and promotion of “free speech” on college campuses.
ADF is a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has worked for decades to undermine the humanity of LGBTQ people all over the globe, advocating for criminalizing gay sex abroad and defending the state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people.
Kirk, who founded the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, has expressed extreme anti-LGBTQ views. Kirk denies the legitimacy of transgender people, stating that recognizing trans identity is “harmful to society.” He has said it is dangerous and wrong that religious bakers be compelled to serve same-sex people equally under the law.
“They want to have fascism where you can go into a private company and say you have to produce a product or service because we have a certain, you know, lifestyle,” Kirk said.
Kirk interviewed Trump in a bizarre back-and-forth Thursday where the two shrugged off Trump’s poor approval rating and bad press as fake news and rehashed former opponent Hillary Clinton’s infamous comments that his supporters were a “basket of deplorables.” The two did not touch on LGBTQ issues.
At the end of his interview, Trump called Kirk, “a great warrior.”
“He really is great,” he reiterated, shaking Kirk’s hand.
In a sharply-worded media release, LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD slammed the White House forum.
“Trump has surrounded himself with anti-LGBTQ activists who have systematically targeted the transgender community and openly defended the vile and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “From delivering countless speeches to fringe groups united around hatred towards LGBTQ Americans to bringing them through the White House gates, President Trump continues to lead a culture war against the LGBTQ community at every turn.”
GLAAD also noted in a tweet that Department of Justice Public Affairs Director Sarah Isgur Flores used the forum to call ADF a “great organization.”
— GLAAD (@glaad) March 22, 2018
Flores goes on to thank ADF for the work they do.
Last October, Trump came under fire for becoming the first president to attend the Value Voters Summit, a conference hosted by anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.
“Values voters have waited eight years for a leader who puts America’s mission first and respects the values that made America into a great nation,” said FRC President Tony Perkins in a press release. “Values voters are coming to our nation’s capital thankful to hear from a president who is fulfilling the promises that he campaigned on.”
Trump is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ hate groups, however. October marked his third appearance at the Value Voters Summit.