One could be forgiven for thinking things are going well for the LGBTQ community. States are, sometimes begrudgingly, coming to terms with court rulings that find bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Some are even legislating equality in marriage, adoptions, accommodations, housing, and employment on their own, without waiting for court orders. As with every civil rights advancement ever made in the United States, however, there is a backlash. At the forefront of today’s backlash is the GOP.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are LGBTQ you need to remember one thing: the Republicans hate you. They hate you with a passion unmatched by any other emotion of which they are capable.
From our own local battle against bigotry here in Visalia, to the statewide debacle of lies and deceit perpetrated by supporters of Prop. 8, to the current slate of anti-gay and anti-trans bills and laws across the country, it’s clear how far we have yet to go. In every case, the authors of anti-LGBTQ legislation have been Republicans.
On May 21, 2005, Assemblyman Bill Maze (R-Visalia) and County Supervisor Phil Cox joined with virulently anti-gay Reverend Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition to hold a rally in Constitution Park against same-sex marriage (how ironic, after the Federal Court rulings on Proposition 8 that came later, saying Prop 8 was UNconstitutional). By 2012 things had changed, at least in Visalia, with the City Council issuing a Proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride month, an action they repeated in 2013. While that is remarkable change, compare it to Porterville’s actions in 2013, when that city erupted into religious fervor against the Mayor’s issuance of a Pride Month Proclamation.
Now, as we look forward to the US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in June, Republican legislators across the country are trying their darnedest to roll back gains made in the struggle for equality.
Even as his party claims they are the champions of “small government” and “local control”, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has introduced legislation aimed at overturning LGBTQ protections enacted by the Washington, D.C. City Council.
In Oklahoma, in a not-very-well-thought-out attempt to hamstring same-sex couples looking to get married after the state’s ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional, GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill to halt the state from issuing ANY marriage licenses. In their place, they would have clergy file “certificates of marriage”, the assumption apparently being that no ministers would conduct gay marriages. Of course, that is wrong, since there are many denominations that are quite comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage.
In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback (R), has cancelled a previous governor’s executive order prohibiting discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Under this Republican, it’s perfectly legal to fire a state worker for being gay or transgender.
In Michigan and Florida, GOP controlled legislatures are introducing bills to allow adoption agencies to decline to place children with gay parents.
In Florida, the Republicans in Tallahassee have decided that transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to use a restroom. They’ve even added language to their legislation that would allow someone to sue a transgender person they “caught” using the “wrong” toilet. It also imposes penalties on anyone allowing a transgender person to use a restroom. (yes, yes, I know… the bill doesn’t actually ban transgender people from using a restroom. It simply requires they use the one that “matches” their chromosomes. There have been some great Instagram and Twitter responses to that suggestion. Transgender men and women have been going into the “correct” restroom, and taking pictures of themselves and the other folks there. The results are amazing. #WeJustWantToPee)
The list could go on, but for now this will be enough. Republicans, for whatever reason, are full throttle in their attempts to use the force of government to impose their own limited perspectives on everyone. Even as the courts tell them they can’t do that, they continue to try. Their hatred for LGBTQ individuals is so strong, and their desire to pander to the most extreme elements of their constituencies so powerful, that they will continue to waste time, money, and the public’s attention on battles they know they will eventually lose, but will distract from their other shenanigans. Like decorating offices to look like popular television shows. Or thinking to deeply about the appropriateness of a multiple-times divorced and remarried person talking about the sanctity of marriage. Or the idea that tax cuts to the rich and reductions of services to the poor will somehow improve things for the American people. That more guns will reduce violent crime. Or…. well, you get the idea.
The GOP hates “the gay”. There’s no other way to say it, and their actions across the country prove it conclusively.