In just a few months, the Supreme Court is expected to hand the LGBT community a ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide. However, in spite of progress on that front, an alarming pattern of hateful LGBT legislation is enshrining the discrimination of our community, all in the name of religious freedom. These developments beg the question: Are LGBT leaders and our allies prepared to pivot and meet anti-gay lawmakers head on in the fight for equality?
In recent weeks, Tea Party Republicans, who seem to have more in common with ISIS than with Democrats, have supported and in some cases passed laws that allow businesses to refuse to do business with LGBT people. In December of 2014, in Arkansas, reality TV star Michelle Duggar worked with “Christian” hate groups to help repeal legislation in Fayetteville that protected LGBT workers. Just a few months later, in early 2015, the Arkansas Legislature passed a law which forbids local municipalities or counties from passing laws that would protect the LGBT community from discrimination. This allows businesses to kick people out or refuse services if they suspect you are gay, or Jewish, or Muslim, or anything other than the inbred, three-toothed, Republican, white majority that we all know proponents of these laws to be.
Right here in Florida, an anti-transgender bill continues to make its way through the lawmaking process, having already been passed in two committees. If it passes another, it is poised to be brought to the floor of the House. The bill would criminalize the use of restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, fitting rooms, and other single-sex public facilities by anyone other than someone who is “biologically” of that sex or who has a driver’s license identifying them to be of that sex. If passed and signed into law, the bill could go into effect by July 1. It would also prohibit places that already have nondiscrimination policies form enforcing those policies and would force people to use the facilities of the sex that they were born with.
In Michigan, House Speaker Jase Bolger sponsored legislation that would allow Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) to refuse treatment of LGBT people. So just imagine you live in Detroit, and your partner is dying of a heart attack. You call for an ambulance. It arrives and the EMT notices the gay pride flag in your front yard or the HRC sticker on your Subaru parked in the driveway. He would then have the legal f–king right to allow your spouse to die rather than start CPR and get him to the hospital…This is really happening, people.
We CANNOT stand by and watch as these hatemongers make us second-class citizens. We have worked too hard to get where we are today in the fight for equality to allow Teabagistan to hold our democracy hostage in the name of Jesus. While we have focused the vast majority of our energy on the fight for marriage equality, the haters have already given up on that front, basically, admitted defeat, and have already been making headway on a totally other field of battle. It’s scary especially in a state as “red” as Florida is. Even more scary because as we ramp up for the race for the White House in 2016, two Floridians are seemingly front-runners for the GOP nomination, and neither supports marriage equality, and surely both would ultimately support nationwide legislation like that in Arkansas, Michigan, and other states that are working hard to hold us down. We must do something rather than just planning our weddings and acting like everything is coming up roses. People, please!
On a side note, it’s amusing that in many of the places where this anti-LGBT legislation is passing easily, thanks to the gerrymandering of electoral districts…it’s legal to marry your FIRST COUSIN, as long as she/he isn’t the same gender as you are…
Many of the LGBT rights groups are beginning to take up the fight but, at least for the first round of hateful legislation directed at our community, it may be too little, too late. We need to ensure that our community encourages our younger members to vote and run for office, and we need to ensure our voices are heard by those already serving. So, in signing off, I leave you with a question…what are we going to do about it?