Making GOP history, Trump vows to protect LGBTQ community

Published 10:23 am Friday, July 22, 2016

CLEVELAND — With five letters, Donald Trump brushed off decades of Republican reluctance to voice full-throated support for gay rights — at least for a night.

Trump’s call in his speech to the Republican National Convention for protecting the “LGBTQ community” was a watershed moment for the Republican Party — the first time the issue has been elevated in a GOP nomination address. Four years ago, Mitt Romney never uttered the word “gay,” much less the full acronym — standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.

But Trump, as if to drive the point home, said it not once, but twice.

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“I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” Trump said, adding for emphasis: “Believe me.”

If Republican delegates gathered in Cleveland to nominate Trump were caught off-guard, they didn’t show it. They cheered him — loudly.

Even the candidate seemed surprised.

“I have to say, as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said,” Trump ad-libbed. “Thank you.”

The unequivocal appeal for a more inclusive tone is likely to give Trump’s fellow Republicans permission to embrace an issue resonating deeply with a younger generation of voters from all sides of the political spectrum. It also puts Trump squarely at odds with the party platform adopted just three days earlier at his own nominating convention.