Melania Trump, who joined President Donald Trump on the campaign trail Thursday, defended him as a friend to gay equality and condemned “cancel culture mobs,” in a campaign video for a conservative gay group posted on Twitter.
“I know how much my husband loves the American people and I know his passion in life is to see all the citizens of this great country do well and prosper,” she said in the video.
Speaking directly to a camera, she is wearing the same pumpkin suede Prada coat she wore during the White House Halloween celebrations on Sunday night.
“In an exclusive video, first lady Melania Trump discusses her support for gay conservatives,” declared the group, OUTspoken, on its website and on Twitter.
“First Lady Melania Trump supports freethinkers and trailblazers. She is an ally for equality. In this exclusive video, the First Lady gets unapologetically outspoken,” the group said on Twitter, which it joined in July.
In the video, Trump defended her husband as a staunch champion of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer Americans, and rejected the claims of his “enemies in the political establishment” that he is anti-gay or against equality.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she declared. “As leader of the Republican Party and (as) president of the United States, Donald has been clear that gays and lesbians will be treated as he has always treated them: equally.”
She noted that her husband was the first president to enter the White House supporting gay marriage, and the first to appoint an openly gay official to a cabinet-level position.
That would be Richard Grenell, who was appointed ambassador to Germany in 2018. In February, Trump nominated him as acting director of national intelligence but he is now advising the Republican National Committee, where he has been promoting the president as a friend to gays.
“President Trump is the most pro-gay president in American history. I can prove it,” he said in video released by a long-established gay GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans, on Twitter in August.
In her video, the first lady lamented the fate of “free-thinkers and independent voices” such as gay conservatives who are “silenced, censored and bullied by cancel culture mobs.”
“This is not the America any of us want to live in,” she said. “We are a nation that celebrates and protects diversity and we condemn those who bully and intimidate people. We do not want to live in a place without freedom, where everyone is forced to think alike.”
She said she supports the Log Cabin Republicans, “and I am unapologetically outspoken.”
“Even if you don’t agree with my husband about everything, you have the right to say it. That is the America way; let’s protect it,” she said.
USA TODAY reached out to OUTspoken for a comment. Trump’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The president’s claim to pro-gay credentials has been widely questioned by his critics and by media fact-checkers, such as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler.
Leading gay groups not allied to the GOP, such as GLAAD, cite multiple reasons why Trump is viewed as no friend to LGBTQ people, including the fact he signed a law that rolls back President Obama’s anti-discriminatory protections for LGBTQ contractors.
Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is viewed with alarm by many Americans who believe she will provide a crucial vote to overturn the right to gay marriage and other legal issues of concern to gays.
Barbara Simon, head of news and campaigns for GLAAD, sent a statement to USA TODAY countering the first lady’s assertions in the video.
“We point the first lady to the record: The Trump administration deployed multiple departments to enact policies against LGBTQ people who want to marry who they love, work without being fired for who they are, go to school, find a safe place to sleep, foster a child, go to the doctor, or order a cake. This is not the work of a pro equality person or president,” the statement said.
On Oct. 1, GLAAD released the findings of its “State of LGBTQ Voters” poll, which found Democrat Joe Biden has a large lead over Trump among LGBTQ likely voters: 76% versus 17%.
It is not uncommon for Melania Trump to say or do something that seems to contradict her husband or takes a different approach. She condemns online bullying as one of her first-lady causes, while he uses his Twitter account to attack people in personal terms.
She advocates for wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus while he initially said he wouldn’t and still often goes maskless at his campaign events.
On Thursday, the couple campaigned together (without masks) for the first time in 2020, appearing at outdoor rallies in Tampa, Florida, and at Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, North Carolina.
In Tampa, he was introduced by the first lady, who praised her husband’s presidency. “Under Donald’s leadership, we have blocked out the noise and focused on you, the American people.”
On Tuesday, she traveled to Atglen, Pennsylvania, to deliver a speech in which she sharply attacked Democrats and the media, in her first solo appearance at a Trump rally in 2020.
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