GOP convention speaker says everyone is 'welcome' despite Trump attacks on LGBTQ rights

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LGBTQ Americans have many reasons not to feel welcome in the Republican Party.

Sean Parnell, who is running to unseat Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, told Democrats during the Republican National Convention on Monday that if they are unsatisfied with their party, they are welcome in the Republican Party.

"It doesn't matter what you look like, who you love, how you worship, your gender or your job. If you're a traditional Democrat who's become disillusioned with how radical your party has become, then stand with us. You are most welcome," Parnell said.

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But LGBTQ Americans have many reasons not to feel welcome in the Republican Party, from the Republican National Convention's speaker lineup, its decision to keep an anti-LGBTQ 2016 platform, and the Trump administration's relentless attacks on LGBTQ equality.

The convention features speakers who have made numerous anti-LGBTQ statements, many of which are transphobic.

Schoolteacher and anti-union activist Rebecca Friedrichs has complained about students being taught about the existence of LGBTQ people and says teachers unions are to blame. "The reason why people cannot opt out of the gender identity [lessons] is because the unions and their allies have labeled that anti-bullying. It's this anti-bullying campaign so that LGBT children don't get bullied because they claim there's this big problem with bullying of those children," Friedrichs told the Christian Post last year.

Kimberly Klacik, a Republican who is running in Maryland's 7th Congressional District, also spoke at the convention on Monday evening. In a tweet posted in March, Klacik lamented that the country is a place where "a man can be a woman, a woman can be a man, drag queens are entertainment for children," and "kids can transition."

Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, has made numerous transphobic statements. In March he called a transgender woman who ran for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team "a biological man" who "took an opportunity away from a real woman" and said that transgender athletes shouldn't compete in the Olympics.

Kirk also makes baseless claims about transgender people endangering cisgender people's safety.

Parnell said on Fox Nation last year: "The idea that a woman doesn't need a man to be successful, the idea that a woman doesn't need a man to have a baby, the idea that a woman can live a happy and fulfilling life without a man, I think it's all nonsense." He later tweeted that the statements were part of "my comedy appearance" and were not meant in earnest.

The Republican Party is not amending its platform this year and is instead simply defaulting to its 2016 platform. In its resolution on adoption of a platform for the 2020 national convention, the Republican National Committee included the clause: "That any motion to amend the 2016 Platform or to adopt a new platform, including any motion to suspend the procedures that will allow doing so, will be ruled out of order."

The party's 2016 platform is extremely hostile to the LGBTQ community. It opposes marriage equality and supports discrimination against transgender people.

Since the beginning, the Trump administration has opposed LGBTQ equality, rolling back numerous Obama-era rules that provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Only one month into Donald Trump's term in office, the Education and Justice departments said schools must set aside memos from the Obama administration mandating under federal law that transgender students be able to use facilities corresponding to their gender.

Since then, the Trump administration has rolled back data collection on LGBTQ people; removed mention of LGBTQ people from federal websites; argued the law doesn't protect queer people from workplace discrimination; and implemented a ban on trans people serving in the military. It is attempting to do much more damage to LGBTQ rights, including gutting protections for transgender patients and homeless people.

The administration has also moved forward with changes to rules on granting asylum in the United States that advocates for human rights say would harm LGBTQ people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.