Buzzfeed has an extensive interview with Arkansas native Judd Deere, deputy press secretary for Donald Trump, about what it’s like to be gay and defend a president widely viewed as unfriendly to equal treatment of LGBT people.
Deere, who’d been a press aide to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge before moving to the White House, sees things differently than, say, most of those marching in Pride parades over the weekend.
“I’ve clearly been hired, and promoted since I’ve got here, and I’m completely open about who I am,” said Deere, who grins widely and speaks with an Arkansas lilt. With a limited crew on deck in Trump’s communications shop, he’s been loaded with high-exposure responsibilities, briefing reporters this month on Trump’s call about ICE raids with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NATO, a summit on social media, affordable housing, the congressional picnic, Trump’s golf schedule, and more.
“These individuals that I work with in this building don’t treat me any differently because I’m gay,” Deere said in an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed News, adding that he works with the president personally many times a week, and “he doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m gay,” either. However, Deere admits, despite sharing his social life freely in the West Wing, he’s not sure if the president actually knows how he identifies.
As an employee of Rutledge, Deere worked for an official who fought those who wanted to change gender on their birth certificates and fought to kill a Fayetteville ordinance meant to protect gay people from discrimination. He finds himself in a similar position in Washington.
Deere’s defense of Trump on LGBTQ rights — like many gay Republicans’ — rests on a vivid conviction: None of the president’s stances are actually discriminatory.
The transgender military ban? A matter of troop combat readiness. Policies to protect religious health care workers who deny services? That merely preserves conscience rights. Arguing that a Christian baker can refuse a wedding cake to a gay couple?
“Yeah, that’s fine,” said Deere, who said the baker would have sold the couple a cake for any other purpose. “I’ll just go find another cake shop that will.”
He defends Trump in other ways.
“The president opposes discrimination and hates violence, all of that, in any form,” he said. Deere said transgender people “erode military readiness” and the ban “was developed through extensive studies within the military by senior military officials.” (Trump’s top general was surprised when Trump announced a ban on Twitter.)
Deere also backed Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act, a bill that would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide, which he said is currently “filled with poison pills.”
There’s much more in the piece. Deere said he expected a backlash.
Indeed. Check the headline from the article summarizing the interview in the Advocate, a prominent gay voice:
Trump’s Gay Press Secretary Lies, Makes Excuses for His Boss