Civil and LGBT Rights Advocacy Groups React to Trump’s First SOTU Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, a lengthy speech which lasted 1 hour 20 minutes.

Civil and LGBT rights advocacy groups reacted with disappointment at Trump’s speech criticizing heavily contested topics which were at the forefront of Trump’s speech including immigration, tax reform, and religious freedom. Trump did not mention “LGBT” or commit to safeguarding the protections and civil rights of LGBT people in his speech.

“Managing to read a pre-written speech off a teleprompter does not make one Presidential or lend a single ounce of legitimacy to Trump’s anti-LGBTQ agenda,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “Trump has spent the past year targeting vulnerable communities and surrounding himself with anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ activists with the goal of exacerbating discrimination and erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation.”

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDE, the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization said, “Amidst the torrent of undeserved self-congratulation, Donald Trump continued to sound disturbing themes of nativism last night. Repeatedly invoking words like ‘great’ and ‘beautiful’ as often as possible cannot change an ongoing pattern of demonizing – and terrifying through an unprecedented campaign of domestic rhetorical warfare – immigrants throughout this country.

“Suggesting that virtue – which is present throughout the nation, including among millions of undocumented immigrants – coincides with native-born citizenship, while strongly implying that MS-13 and violent criminal activity characterize all immigrants, Trump continued, in only slightly muted form, his verbal assault on immigrants of color in general and Latino immigrants in particular. In actual practice, this ugly pattern of scurrilous assertions continues to lead to regular deportations of peaceful immigrants unfairly labeled ‘criminal’, and his proposed immigration framework would lead to much, much more of the same.

“The fact the handlers can prepare a speech for Trump to read that is slightly more subtle in its nativism than the uncensored tweeter-in-chief’s usual blather cannot change policy fact. In the end, it’s just lipstick on a pig.  The Kelly-Miller immigration framework would take us back a hundred years; it is a nativist plan with no place in 21st-century policymaking.”

Criticizing Trump on his statements about immigrants  Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International said,

“OutRight is very proud to be the oldest international LGBTI rights organization in the United States. And we are very clear how we achieved 28 years of impact. Two-thirds of our staff in the US is an immigrant or child of immigrants. Our staff around the world are based in the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, the U.K., and St. Lucia. This rich combination of immigrants to the US and global talent gives OutRight the resources to be effective.

“And so, when we listened to last night’s State of the Union, we rejected the coded language and explicit attacks on immigrants or anyone not American. We heard a right-wing fantasy where manufacturing and automobiles rule, where military force makes Americans safer, and where the Constitution is frozen in time. This is Trump’s moral panic, and we reject his world view.

“As a leading American organization, we declare our love of immigrants and people who are not American. We love all workers not just veterans. We love healthcare. We love equal rights and non-discrimination, not coded “religious freedom.” We love modern interpretations of the US Constitution. We love the visa lottery. We love all families, not just the nuclear family. We call for the radical principle of love to be the new state of the union.”

A CNN/SSRS poll of Trump’s first State of the Union address showed that 48 percent of those surveyed had a “very positive” reaction to his speech last night.