By Jennifer Davis
President Donald Trump on Friday will become the first sitting U.S. president to address the Family Research Council's annual right wing political and religious conference, the Values Voter Summit. FRC appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active anti-gay hate groups and its president, Tony Perkins, reportedly asked the Commander-in-Chief for the military transgender ban.
This is not Trump's first time at the VVS, according to a press release announcing Trump's upcoming appearance. He has attended and spoken before the far right wing extremist group's audience twice before. Last year, Trump promised VVS attendees if they elected him president, "Our Christian heritage will be cherished, defended, protected like you've never seen before."
Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the Values Voters last year.
In recent weeks the president has escalated his attacks on the LGBT community, clearly as a gift to his religious right wing base. After rescinding Obama-era guidance protecting transgender children in February, Trump's Justice Dept. earlier this month revoked an Obama-era government policy that, in keeping with federal court and EEOC rulings, determined that transgender people are protected in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The attorney general has now scrapped that policy.
The Values Voter Summit is a magnet for some of the most anti-LGBT activists in America. In addition to speakers from other anti-gay hate groups like Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association, the annual event attracts notables like Rowan County, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who this year is in Romania attempting to stop same-sex marriage from becoming legal there.
Among this year's confirmed speakers are Michelle Bachmann, Steve Bannon, the benham Brothers, Sebastian Gorka (the former Trump aide linked to a neo-Nazi group), Fox News' Laura Ingraham, the NRA's Dana Loesch, and GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore.
Also speaking this year is House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, whose life was saved by a D.C. police officer who is a lesbian.
Earlier this month the Trump administration instituted a sweeping rollback of the Obama-era contraception mandate – which absolutely affects LGBT people – and instituted an extraordinary policy reversal prioritizing the rights of people of faith over the rights of LGBT people.
Just days ago Trump's Dept. of Health and Human Services scrapped a proposed rule that would have protected senior same-sex couples in nursing homes and other elder care facilities.
The Trump's Interior Dept. backed out of support for Wednesday's dedication of the Stonewall National Monument, the first honoring the LGBT community and LGBT history. They even refused to allow a previously scheduled speaker to attend, claiming a last-minute scheduling conflict.