Newspaper article International New York Times

Trump's Views on Gays Set Him Apart in the G.O.P

Newspaper article International New York Times

Trump's Views on Gays Set Him Apart in the G.O.P

Article excerpt

Donald J. Trump's ease with gay people does not seem to be the result of deep soul searching, but rather the product of the Manhattan social and political world he has inhabited the past five decades.

Elton John and his longtime boyfriend, David Furnish, entered a civil partnership on Dec. 21, 2005, in England under a law the country had just enacted granting recognition to same-sex couples. The congratulations poured in as the two men appeared at a joyous ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, amid a crush of paparazzi. Donald J. Trump, who had known the couple for years, took to his blog to express his excitement.

"I know both of them, and they get along wonderfully. It's a marriage that's going to work," Mr. Trump wrote, adding: "I'm very happy for them. If two people dig each other, they dig each other."

Mr. Trump is now the leading candidate for president in the Republican primary, which has traditionally been dominated by hopefuls eager to show how deeply conservative they are on social issues like gay rights and marriage.

But Mr. Trump is far more accepting of sexual minorities than his party's leaders have been. On Thursday, he startled some Republicans by saying on NBC's "Today" show that he opposed a recently passed North Carolina law that prohibits people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to the gender they were born with, striking down a Charlotte ordinance.

Transgender people should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate," Mr. Trump said, putting him at odds with a majority of Republicans in North Carolina.

But it is his views on gay rights and gay people that most distinguish Mr. Trump from previous Republican standard-bearers. He has nurtured long friendships with gay people, employed gay workers in prominent positions, and moved with ease in industries where gays have long exerted influence, like entertainment.

"He will be the most gay-friendly Republican nominee for president ever," said Gregory T. Angelo, the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights.

Of course, Mr. Trump is not as embracing of gay rights as the Democratic candidates are; he said during this campaign that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, a position he has held since at least 2000, when he briefly flirted with a bid for the presidency. But he does not emphasize marriage as an issue, and he makes no mention of it, for example, on his campaign website, which focuses on issues like immigration and trade.

And Mr. Trump, who has inflamed tensions with almost every group, from Hispanics to women to African-Americans, has avoided attacking or offending gay men and lesbians during the campaign.

His history with the gay community is a long one. He donated to charities focused on the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s and early '90s. In 2000, when he briefly considered running for president, he gave an interview to The Advocate, a gay magazine, in which he supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to "include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation."

"It would be simple. It would be straightforward," Mr. Trump said in the interview, adding, "It's only fair."

Sixteen years later, gay rights advocates are still trying to persuade Congress to pass a similar measure, but they have struggled to win support, especially from Republicans. The last Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, opposed similar legislation in 2012.

Mr. Trump declined to be interviewed for this article.

His ease with gay people does not seem to be the result of deep soul searching, but, rather, the product of the Manhattan social and political world he has inhabited the past five decades.

"I live in New York. I know many, many gay people. Tremendous people," Mr. Trump said in an interview in 2011.

He has been playful at times, such as in 2000, when he and Mayor Rudolph W. …

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