Same-sex couples are showing up at Buffalo City Hall to get married now, fearing they might not be able once Donald Trump becomes president.
Both sides of the abortion debate are bracing for what happens when Trump appoints justices to the Supreme Court.
And business owners and workers look forward to Trump dismantling trade agreements they hope will return manufacturing jobs to the United States.
Trump’s rise to power has created expectations of dramatic changes to some of the nation’s most contentious issues – abortion, marriage equality, health care, immigration.
But the reality is his election win has created mostly unknowns and questions about what a President Trump actually can and cannot do.
The only certainty?
Hope and fear.
Five same-sex couples walked into Buffalo City Hall last Wednesday – the day after Trump’s election – seeking marriage licenses.
Typically, just two or three a week show up.
That’s no coincidence, according to people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Trump’s election left many scared that he will undo political gains over the past eight years, including marriage equality.
The reality: Trump hasn’t opposed same-sex marriage.
“These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And, I’m fine with that,” Trump said in his interview with “60 Minutes.”
Besides, it would be difficult to challenge the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that states could not ban same-sex marriages, because someone would have to claim they were harmed by marriage equality, said Lucinda Finley, a professor in the University at Buffalo School of Law.
“You can’t just say, ‘I don’t like it. My religion doesn’t believe in it.’ It has to be real harm,” Finley said.
But there’s a wariness because Trump also has “taken every stance possible” on some issues and his actions have been contradictory, said Bryan Ball, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Western New York, an LGBT political organization.
Trump has pledged to overturn all of the executive orders under the Obama administration, which have included protecting the rights of transgender students, Ball said. And he chose a running mate in Mike Pence, who has a record of opposing gay rights while as governor of Indiana and as a member of Congress.
Trump said as many as three million illegal immigrants with criminal records could be deported soon after he takes office, creating widespread fear even among those who came to the United States legally – including refugees.
The reality: Trump’s orders would speed up the work that started two years ago under Obama, which focused on deporting illegals with the most violent criminal records.
“Trump is going to ramp it up and make it a more significant operation,” said Michael Berger, a long-time immigration attorney in Amherst.
That has led to questions about the accuracy of Trump’s estimates, the cost of deportation, legal challenges and the government’s ability to deal with the heavy case load. The biggest question may be how he will handle the remaining 8 or 9 million undocumented immigrants who have posed no threat and established roots in the US.
“They’re definitely at risk,” Berger said. “How much he is going to do remains to be seen.”
As for refugees – those who were taken in by the United States after fleeing war and persecution in their own
country – they may face prolonged background checks that would take them longer to get their green card, Berger said.
Resettlement agencies are trying to reassure refugees that they are legally in the United States – and safe.
“We are working hard to make sure our clients know they are welcome and supported,” said Eva Hassett, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo.Muslims
Muslims in the United States see a rising backlash against them, saying Trump fueled it with his pledge in December to deny Muslims entry into the United States. He later seemed to alter that position to target countries linked to terrorism.
“Right now, people are having difficulty at work. They’re being harassed on the streets and in schools,” said Faizan Haq, a lecturer at SUNY Buffalo State and founder of the group WNY Muslims. “We have seen many incidents where people are told, ‘Go back home. You don’t belong here.’”
The reality: The FBI this week reported an overall rise in hate crimes during 2015, the biggest increase coming against Muslim Americans. There were 257 reported attacks against Muslims last year, up 67 percent from the prior year.
Trump said last weekend that he was “saddened to hear” about reports of harassment and threats against Muslims and other minorities.
“And I say,‘Stop it.’ If it…helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’” TNS