There was no mention of LGBTQ+ people during night three of the 2020 Republican National Convention ( RNC ) on Aug. 26, not even by implication. Although an openly gay speaker was given time in the spotlight, he did not discuss equal rights for LGBTQ+ people or even mention his role as the newly appointed leader in the Trump campaign's outreach to LGBT voters.
That newly appointed leader, Richard Grenell, who is also Trump's former ambassador to Germany, was identified through the on-screen caption only as "Former Acting Director of National Intelligence"a role he held for three months.
Grenell spoke of how he saw President Trump "charm" German Chancellor Andrea Merkel and insisted Germany pay more to finance NATO. He said Trump has been unfairly blamed for the coronavirus pandemic. And he said Trump's calling himself a "nationalist" has been misunderstood. What it means, said Grenell, is simply that the president will always base his policies on the United States' national interests.
"America first is simply the belief that politicians should focus on the quality and dignity of every American," said Grenell.
Given Grenell's recent appointment to lead the Trump campaign outreach to the LGBT community, many expected he would make the case to the convention audience that Trump supports equal rights for LGBT people.
In a video released by a Log Cabin Republicans website Aug. 20, Grenell declared Trump to be the "most pro-gay president in American history." He unloaded an attack on Democrat nominee Joe Biden's record on LGBT issues, noting that Biden had voted for several anti-LGBT pieces of legislation. But Grenell did not mention this at the RNC.
The whole third night of the convention passed without any inclusion of LGBT concerns.
Grenell's speech came late in the convention, just before the final address by Vice President Mike Pence. And Pence used his speech, before a large live audience outside Fort McHenry in Baltimore, to praise President Trump's "toughness, energy, and resolve" to tackle the nation's challenging issues.
Other speakers throughout the night repeatedly referred to the "mobs," "violence" and "chaos" in some U.S. cities, saying that such problems represent what life in the country would be like under a President Biden. They did not acknowledge that the problems erupted under President Trump.
The convention also continued its focus on trying to secure the votes of women, particularly those in suburbs, and evangelical voters.
The convention focused on women through speeches and video recognizing Aug. 26 as the 100th anniversary of when the 19th Amendment was officially certified. Other speakers talked about breast cancer and Trump's promotion of women to senior positions. Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, mentioned Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride as women who have helped shape history. ( Although it does not seem widely known beyond the LGBT community, Ride's companion for the 27 years following her marriage was a woman. )
Speakers focusing on the evangelical vote included a nun who spoke out against abortion and political correctness; U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who condemned the closure of churches during the coronavirus epidemic; and former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who said Biden was "a Catholic in name only."
Trump needs to hang onto his base of evangelical voters, and that likely accounts for why Grenell did identify as a gay man supporting Trump or mention his role in soliciting LGBT votes or praise Trump as the "most pro-gay president in American history."
The convention ended with President Trump arriving on stage to stand with Pence as country singer Trace Adkins sang the national anthem a capella. He then walked down off the stage to approach a short wall that separated the stage from a line of wounded warriors. While it appeared the president and First Lady Trump stayed six feet from the wall, no one had masks on and the other audience members soon crowded together at the wall to get photos and call out their support.
The last night of the convention will include Trump's formal acceptance speech.
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