Politics | February 6, 2019 10:08 am

Remembering the 2000 Advocate Interview in Which Trump Was Pro Gay, Universal Healthcare and Taxing the Rich

"We must have a more tolerant society."

Donald Trump
Donald Trump, pictured here in 2000, gave an interview to The Advocate magazine where he shared pro-gay opinions as well as supporting universal healthcare. (Photo by Budd Williams/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NY Daily News via Getty Images

Back in 2000, The Advocate asked then-Reform Party presidential hopeful Donald Trump where he stood on LGBT rights and policy, to which he gave rather surprising responses.

Does Trump support queer people? Yes. Would he want them on his presidential staff? Yes. Less legal hassles for gays? Yup.

Unfortunately, none of those things have happened.

As Trump stood in front of the nation last night during the State of the Union address, it was hard not to think about the Donald Trump from 2000 (a man who at the time said, “don’t ask, don’t tell has clearly failed”), and how the current version has strayed so far from what was once a fairly moderate way of thinking.

Check out excerpts from The Advocate interview below.

The Advocate: Why should gays and lesbians be interested in you as a presidential candidate?

Trump: I grew up in New York City, a town with different races, religions, and peoples. It breeds tolerance. In all truth, I don’t care whether or not a person is gay. I judge people based on their capability, honesty, and merit. Being in the entertainment business — that is, owning casinos and … several large beauty pageants — I’ve worked with many gay people. I have met some tough, talented, capable, terrific people. Their lifestyle is of no interest to me.

In his answer, Trump doesn’t actually tell us why queer folks should get behind him, except for the fact that he’s “met some” because he owned a few pageants. Being gay isn’t a “lifestyle” any more so than being straight is. Here, Trump shows a lack of overall knowledge about the LGBTQI community and basic misconceptions they face. Trump says he judges people based on their honest and merit, which he hasn’t shown such a great track record of doing.

A: Would we see gay people in a Trump administration?

T: I would want the best and brightest. Sexual orientation would be meaningless. I’m looking for brains and experience. If the best person for the job happens to be gay, I would certainly appoint them. One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government. I’d want to change that.

We wonder what Trump’s idea of a “good person” in government would look like today- as many of the staff members he has employed or appointed have been indicted on federal charges and some have been found guilty.

A: What would you do to combat antigay prejudice?

T: I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward. We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair. 

Trump first talks about amending the Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, in true Trump fashion he launches into an attack on then Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley and how he’s as “phony as a $20 Rolex.” Trump has yet to introduce that amendment, instead he’s vowed to ban transgender people from serving in the military. His response to the next question is a direct contradiction to his answer above.

A: Do you think gay people should be allowed to serve in the military?

T: Yes, if a gay person can be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or take another position of responsibility, why can’t they serve this country in the military? “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has clearly failed. Gay people serve effectively in the military in a number of European countries. There is no reason why they can’t serve in the United States.

To be clear: gay people are not the same as a transgender person and some trans people are gay and some are not. The truth of the matter is, now that Trump has been president for a couple of years, he’s rolled back rights for LGBTQI people at a rate at which no other president has rivaled.

Trump and his administration have withdrawn landmark guidance explaining how schools must protect trans students under the law, removed LGBT-related questions from the 2020 census, tweeted that the U.S. Military wouldn’t accept trans folks to serve, forcing trans prisoners to house with the sex they were assigned at birth, attempting to ban the pride flag, and rolled back healthcare rights making sure trans people couldn’t be discriminated against by healthcare providers.

In the Advocate interview, the future president goes on to say that Republican Pat Buchanan is a Hitler lover and hypocrite for being anti-gay and changing his mind later. In the past few years we’ve seen Trump change his mind, on several things, several times. For example, his stance on building a southern border wall. In 2013, Trump tweeted an Isaac Newton quote about building too many walls and not enough bridges. Apparently, he’s changed his mind.

A: If you wanted to accomplish four things as president, what would they be?

T: My number 1 goal would be to make our economy boom. My plan to impose a onetime net worth tax of 14.25% on the superwealthy, when combined with our current projected surpluses, will raise enough to pay off the national debt. That would save us $200 billion a year in interest. I’d use half the savings to cut taxes for the middle class. I’d use the other half to fund Social Security and finance a new health care system.

Second, I’d like to end the rip-off of America by our allies. We pay for their defense, and they screw us with their trade policies. I would appoint myself U.S. trade representative and conduct the negotiations with our major trading partners myself ­— and I guarantee you the rip-off of America would end.

Third, I would press for universal health care. It’s ridiculous that the richest country on Earth can’t provide first-rate health care for our people. I would put forward a comprehensive health care program and fund it with an increase in corporate taxes. I’d strictly regulate the pharmaceutical firms to end these 500% profits on drugs that are cheap to produce. I like the Canadian system, although their health care is not the best. If you combine their system with the quality of our health care, we could provide cradle-to-grave health care for everyone.

Last, I’d like to restore the spirit of America. I don’t think we’ve had the American spirit much in recent years. The last leader to inspire confidence and build the American spirit was Ronald Reagan. I don’t agree with everything he did, but I agree with a lot — and I have to admit, I liked his style. I also want to see a greater atmosphere of tolerance. The dragging death of James Byrd in Texas or the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming is a national disgrace. We must have a more tolerant society.

Where is the version of president Trump that supports the universal healthcare system he tells The Advocate has worked so well in Canada? Why hasn’t he taxed the rich to fund the system, like he promised to do in 2000 if elected. He’s tweeted time and time again his hatred for ObamaCare along with his plans to repeal the bill which brought insurance coverage to millions of Americans.

Trump has, somewhat, lived up to his promise to “negotiate” trade deals with foreign parties. During last night’s State of the Union address, Trump claimed that billions of dollars were pouring into the treasury due to heavy tariffs he’s slapped down on China. That’s could be true.

According to the Washington Post: “Treasury data show that there was an increase of $6.7 billion in customs duties collected in the fiscal year that ended in September, and it’s possible most of the increase is due to tariffs. But the exporters do not pay the tariffs; it is the importer, who in turn passes it on to consumers.”

Trump stating that “the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming is a national disgrace,” could be the single-most offensive thing, to LGBTQI folks, he said in this interview as his presidential history of anti-LGBT rhetoric and policy making make him part of the problem that can lead events like Shepard’s torture and murder.

The current first lady has spearheaded an ineffective anti-bullying campaign as her way of leaving a mark on US children. How can she purport to be anti-bullying when her husband routinely spews hatred from his Twitter account?

A: Does that mean you’d support hate-crimes legislation?

T: Absolutely. This is one of my great disappointments with George W. Bush. He had the opportunity in Texas to show national leadership by passing a hate-crimes bill but didn’t — presumably from pressure form the Christian right. When somebody is victimized because of their ethnicity, the color of their skin, or their sexual orientation, that must carry a harsh penalty.

See above for our take on the LGBTQI-related rights Trump has rolled back.

A: Do you think you could win [a presidential race]?

T: Maybe not. I believe in straight talk. Maybe I’m too blunt for politics, but I’m not about to change. Unlike the rest of the people running, I’m not some pol trying to top out his resume. I don’t need the job to feel good about myself. In fact, I feel pretty good right now. But I guarantee you this. If I do run, it won’t be boring.

Trump was right- it wasn’t boring. It’s been a roller coaster.