The one word Donald Trump wouldn't say at the ultra-conservative Values Voter Summit

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Donald Trump's speech at the Values Voter Summit, a yearly gathering of religious conservatives, was easy applause line after easy applause line.


The Republican nominee, whose four children went to elite private schools, is now a big fan of homeschooling. He wants to repeal the part of the tax code that prevents tax-exempt churches from endorsing political candidates. He supports religious liberty like you wouldn't believe. He will nominate Supreme Court justices that are lab developed replicas of the late Antonin Scalia. "The family must be at the center of any anti-poverty agenda," said the man who bragged that he does not help care for his children.

But there was one topic he wouldn't touch on Friday: LGBTQ rights. Or I should probably say the movement to deny LGBTQ people their rights. This is surprising at an event hosted by the Family Research Council—an organization that believes "the homosexual agenda" will "destroy our nation"—and features a lineup of speakers that have, say, compared same-sex marriage to slavery.

Trump alluded to the kinds of religious liberty laws that have been used in Indiana and elsewhere to further sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people, but never once mentioned same-sex marriage or public accommodation policies that target trans people. (He also stayed away from abortion, but that may have been more self-protective than anything: he managed to alienate both the pro-choice and anti-abortion movement when he said, and then unsaid, that women should be punished if they have an abortion illegally.)

As a basis of comparison, in 2015, Texas senator and failed presidential candidate Ted Cruz used his speech at the summit to praise Kim Davis for denying marriage certificates to same-sex couples in Georgia and pledge to open a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood. (The crowd went wild.)

It's one of the more perplexing things about Trump, a candidate who has gleefully degraded women, Muslim people in the United States and around the world, immigrants, and people with disabilities: he is uncharacteristically subdued when it comes to the anti-LGBTQ culture wars blazing in the modern Republican party.

But more important than what Trump didn't say at the Values Voter Summit is the sum of what he did say. He will appoint judges to the Supreme Court in the mold of Scalia, who once compared laws banning gay sex to laws banning murder. He will empower states to pass muscular discrimination laws under the guise of religious liberty, and even tapped Mike Pence, a governor who signed one such law in Indiana, as his vice presidential pick.


Trump may not bring the same fire and brimstone, but the policies all line up. And the overwhelming majority of white Evangelicals seem to understand this, and have given him their vote all the same.