In his speech to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Thursday night, Donald Trump made a rare appeal (on that stage) to the LGBT community.
Specifically, Trump said he would do everything in his power “to protect LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”
It was a reference to last month’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in a speech dominated by the theme of public safety.
At the time, Seth Kaufer was sitting near the convention stage as a member of the Pennsylvania delegation. As a gay Republican from South Philadelphia, he said it was the applause Trump got for that line that brought a tear to his eye.
“To hear my other fellow delegates from all around me and all parts of Pennsylvania, all parts of the country really, choked me up a little bit because it’s what I’ve been saying and defending and telling to everyone,” said Kaufer, who said he has always felt welcome in the GOP.
“I really felt like the Republican Party and the delegations and Mr. Trump really had my back on this one — our back, the LGBT conservatives,” he said.
Kaufer was not the only one in our region who was impressed.
Christopher Sawyer, who writes the real estate blog Philadelinquancy, said it was the first time he’s ever heard LGBT mentioned “in a positive or neutral light” on the RNC stage, although he, like Kaufer, balked at what he calls the “myth” that the GOP does not welcome gay people.
“He’s also definitely making it a lot more difficult for his detractors to paint an image of ‘Trump hates LGBT people,'” Sawyer said. “The other side is, ‘He wants to take away all the rights we ever fought for.’ Well, that’s a myth, too.”
However, the Republican Party platform leans further to the right than Trump, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and criticizing the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Donna Jaconi, a Philadelphia police officer who recently married her partner of 14 years, said she hopes Trump will influence the GOP to soften its stance.
“People can change, and their opinions can change,” said Jaconi. “You can also feel the same way like, ‘Yeah I think it’s between a man and a woman’, but when you see a happy couple, I guess you have to smile.”