The first night of the Republican National Convention spent considerable time reassuring Black and Latinx people that it is the party of "diversity," "values," and "morality." An openly gay speaker is planned for Aug. 26, but on day one of the four-day convention, all the LGBT-related discourse took place outside.
GLAADthe national group that serves as a watchdog of media coverage of LGBT peopleaired a television ad that shows a young man trying to explain to his mother how Trump policies threaten his life. A fact-checking column in The Washington Post tackled gay convention speaker Richard Grenell's claims against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. And headlines splashed news that anti-LGBT evangelist Franklin Graham, scheduled to speak to the convention on Aug. 27, had a sexual three-way arrangement with another man and his wife for six years.
Add to this that the campaign played the 1970s gay anthem "YMCA," by the Village People, as President Trump wrapped up his informal acceptance speech before a small group of delegates in Charlotte on Aug. 24.
Meanwhile, the GOP platform remains the same as it did in 2016a platform that prompted Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay Republican group, to denounce it as the "most anti-LGBT platform in the Republican Party's 162-year history." But Log Cabin endorsed Trump for re-election in August 2019, and USA Today ran an opinion piece from Log Cabin's national board President Robert Kabel between the two conventions, saying "in large part to the leadership of President Donald Trump, the party has delivered meaningful policy victories for gays and lesbians."
GLAAD's ad offered an entirely different message. In the 30-second ad, viewers are drawn into an ongoing conversation between a young gay man and his mother. The mother speaks first, saying "you're just exaggerating, son." The son replies that Trump opposes a bill that seeks to prevent him from being evicted or turned away from an emergency room for being gay."
"I know you like him," says the man, "but I need you to understand what he's doing to harm me."
GLAAD said it bought airtime to play the ad on Fox News' Fox and Friends the morning of Aug. 24, and in New York and Washington markets during the remainder of the week.
"[G]iven Fox News' track record on spreading misinformation or completely rendering LGBTQ issues invisible, it's critical in this instance that we reach Fox News viewers with what they need to know about what's at stake for LGBTQ people at this critical moment in our history," said the group in a statement on the ad's release.
The Washington Post fact-checking team took on gay former ambassador Richard Grenell's anti-Biden video, released on the last day of the Democratic convention. The video, which appears to be a trial run for Grenell's Wednesday speech at the Republican convention, blasts Biden for a number of anti-LGBT votes and positions during his political career.
Grenell calls Trump the "most pro-gay president in American history." He criticizes the Democratic nominee for having opposed security clearances for gay people and voting for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Defense of Marriage Act, and against funding for any school that teaches acceptance of gay people.
According to the Post, however, the assertion of Trump as the "most pro-gay president" is "silly." It says the criticisms of Biden are "a stew of misleading timelines, out-of-context quotes and claims easily debunked."
Viewers of the Aug. 24 convention program did not necessarily need a fact-checker to dispel many of the anti-Biden claims made during the two-and-a-half-hour broadcast. Many, for instance, warned voters that there will be rioting in the streets if Biden gets elected, even though news reports have clearly demonstrated riots during the Trump administration. No one mentioned LGBT people, but several referred to "values" and "morality" in ways that seemed to lump efforts to achieve equality with "vengeful mobs" and the closing of churches due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Donald Trump Jr., whose bleary eyes drew considerable speculation about what caused them, told the viewers, "Joe Biden and the radical left are also now coming for our freedom of speech and want to bully us into submission."
And with the final speech of the night, U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, revived the "cultural war."
"Make no mistake: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want a cultural revolution," said Scott. "If we let them, they will turn our country into a socialist utopia, and history has taught us that path only leads to pain and misery, especially for hard-working people hoping to rise."
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