Trump's ambassador has launched a major policy initiative that will ripple around the world. Trump says he has no idea what's going on.
The Trump administration has a major international initiative being promoted by one of the most high-profile foreign policy officials of the United States — and Trump knows nothing about it.
Richard Grenell, the infamously incompetent U.S. ambassador to Germany, recently announced a campaign to purportedly push to end laws that criminalize homosexuality in foreign countries.
Asked whether some of the notoriously anti-gay members of the administration, including Trump and Mike Pence, are on board with the new policy, Grenell gave the impression that he had support from Trump and the rest of his administration.
"Decriminalizing homosexuality is something that people absolutely agree is a policy that we have to move forward on," he told NBC News.
But Trump appears to have no idea what Grenell is talking about.
At an appearance alongside the Australian chancellor on Wednesday, Trump was asked by a reporter to comment on the "push to decriminalize homosexuality."
"Say it?" Trump asked, looking completely confused.
"Your push to decriminalize homosexuality across the world," the reporter reiterated.
"I don't know which report you're talking about. We have many reports," Trump replied. He then asked, "Anybody else?" to move on to the next question.
It is understandable why Trump would be surprised by the question since his administration is openly hostile to LGBTQ rights and equality.
His administration has been contemplating enshrining restrictive definitions of gender in the law, which would allow widespread discrimination against transgender people.
In October — during LGBTQ History Month — Trump's State Department reversed a 2009 rule for employees of U.S.-based international organizations implemented under President Barack Obama that granted spousal visas to same-sex couples who are domestic partners. Marriage isn't an option for many of these people since they work in countries that do not allow same-sex marriage.
Trump's Department of Agriculture recently pressured 4H to rescind guidance that would have been more welcoming of LGBTQ children.
Trump's vice president has been a longtime leader in the movement to deny equal rights to LGBTQ Americans. His appeal to social conservatives who share those extreme beliefs was part of a calculated strategy to shore up Republican support for Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Organizations fighting for equality were openly skeptical of Grenell's claims.
"Donald Trump and Mike Pence have turned a blind eye to a campaign of violence and murder targeting LGBTQ people in Chechnya that has stretched on for two years. They have turned away LGBTQ people fleeing violence and persecution and sent them back to countries that criminalize them and have consistently worked to undermine the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and our families here at home from day one," said Jeremy Kadden, senior international policy advocate for the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement to Shareblue Media.
"If this commitment is real, we have a lot of questions about their intentions and commitments and are eager to see what proof and action will follow."
Trump is no ally to LGBTQ people, either in the United States or globally. He is not only disinterested in their human rights, but is openly hostile to them. That's why the administration's new policy has raised so many questions.
But Trump's confusion seems to confirm that the ambassador does not have the full support of the administration in his own pursuit for gay rights abroad. Whether Trump will actually support it, once someone explains it to him, is anyone's guess.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.