In a twist so ironic that Alanis Morisette could write a song about it, Donald Trump has proposed that Muslim immigrants be tested on their commitment to LGBT equality and religious liberty convictions before entering the United States. This isn’t the first time that the presidential nominee has spoken about LGBT rights (he used his platform at the Republican National Convention to express a commitment towards LGBT equality to the sound of thunderous applause), but it’s still a fascinating proposal since both he and his running mate, Mike Pence, would fail the very test he wants to institute.
Trump presented the policy, read from a teleprompter to show his severity, by comparing himself and his “extreme vetting” policy to the Cold War-era purge of communists led by Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy’s endeavor, which was dubbed the Red Scare for the induced hysteria it produced, led to Congress and law enforcement harassing employees in the federal government and in Hollywood. The Scare resulted in false accusations, firings, blacklists, alienation, and a Supreme Court decision that restricted the free speech rights of supposed communists. It’s not a metaphor that many would strive for, especially since the Red Scare concluded with the Senate condemning McCarthy for his rash behavior, in what was essentially a censure.
Although his policy proposal doesn’t include a draft of the vetting process, Trump said that he intends to test Muslim immigrants based on their opinions on the US Constitution, gender equality, religious freedom, and gay rights. The purpose would be to screen out any “hostile attitudes towards this country and its principles” and anyone who “supports bigotry and hatred.” Since the US naturalization process already includes an Oath of Allegiance that requires potential citizens to swear to uphold and support the Constitution, the unique aspect of Trump’s test is it’s commitment to gay rights, gender equality, and religious freedom. Three values that Trump and Pence haven’t exactly embodied.
For example, in 2011 Trump expressed his support for the national same-sex marriage ban, and in January he said that he would consider appointing Supreme Court justices that would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. He also keeps company with known anti-LGBT hate groups and has enlisted Mike Pence as his running mate. Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, is best known for proposing a cut to HIV funding and redirecting the money to support conversion therapy, forcing counties to ask permission before instituting needle exchanges during an emergency HIV outbreak, cosponsoring legislation that defined marriage between a man and a woman, and signing into law an anti-LGBT, religious-based discrimination bill. Although Trump may speak in support of LGBT individuals, he promotes groups and legislators who have actively harmed the community through bills and campaigns.
As far as gender equality goes, Trump’s history of disrespecting women is well recorded, and his platform doesn’t even mention his stance on gender equality. Meanwhile, Pence rallied against Planned Parenthood, abortion access, and raising the minimum wage (which disporportionately affects women). Gender equality cannot be gained by preventing women and individuals who have uteruses from access vital healthcare. Nor can gender equality be gained if the wage gap continues to be enabled with policies such as Pence’s.
And although Trump and Pence talk a big game about religious freedom, this very policy violates the Free Excercise Clause (aka religious freedom) by singling out a religious demographic based on conservative views that are also displayed by other religions, such as Christianity. Both men have supported legislation concerning religious freedom, such as North Carolina’s HB2 and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But both bills claim to protect against behavior that’s already prohibited, such as assault in public acomodations and the deprivation of one’s religious expression, at the expense of LGBT individuals, non-Christians, and municipalities (who are barred from instituting non discrimination laws by these bills).
Despite his claimed commitment to equality, Trump’s record and that of his running mate betray their intentions with Trump’s newest immigration policy proposal. Aside from the vetting procedure, Trump also described his position on interacting with NATO (which he recently called obsolete), fighting ISIS, and on banning immigration from countries where terrorism is widespread.