Over the last few weeks it has become clear that Donald Trump, in an effort to shore up his shrinking but hyper-partisan base, has turned to the tried and true methods of the culture wars.
Here is just a small sample of the threats to the LGBT community unveiled recently:
- The Administration justified the nomination of Amy Barrett, known for her anti-LGBT views, to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by invoking “religious liberty”.
- The US voted ‘NO’ on a UN resolution condemning the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality around the world.
- Mississippi’s “religious freedom” law went into effect after the 5th Circuit refused to grant a stay. Discrimination against LGBT persons on the basis of one’s religious beliefs is now the law in that state.
- The Department of Health and Human Services removed all mentions of LGBT people and their health concerns from its Fiscal 2018-2022 strategic Plan.
- Sam Brownback dodged questions about the treatment of LGBT people around the world at his confirmation hearing to become the US Ambassador at large for Religious Freedom.
- The Justice Department has rescinded protections for trans workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Alarmingly, the Justice Department issued new guidance for government agencies for how they should apply existing law, saying “The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.” This means that the bakers who don’t want to serve gay couples should be considered by government agencies to be within their rights.
- The Department of the Interior abruptly pulled out of an event at the new Stonewall Monument memorializing the struggle for gay rights, and sought to confirm that the rainbow flag raised there would not technically be on federal lands.
Some of these actions are symbolic. Some raise serious legal issues for ongoing discrimination cases currently making their way through the justice system.
We are now living in a country where the president joked, during an interview for the New Yorker, that the Vice President wants to “hang” all of us.
What can we do in the face of this kind of hate?
- Breathe. We have faced threats before. To our rights, to our freedom, to our health and safety, to our families, and to our existence. We will face this and do what we have always done.
- Speak up. Allowing statements like the president’s quote in the New Yorker article to go unanswered normalizes them. It makes them part of the every day circus of this administration, rather than shocking departures from common decency. Tell people about this. Talk about how it makes you feel as a member of the community or an ally. Acknowledge your feelings and accept that they are valid responses to an existential threat.
- Act. Find ways to make your concerns heard wherever possible. We have 2 ideas for this:
- Call the Justice Department (202-353-1555) and tell them that you disagree with their interpretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Say that you believe Title VII covers discrimination against transgender workers, and all LGBT workers. Express your disappointment with their recent moves to justify LGBT discrimination under the guise of “Religious freedom” and explain that discrimination is not freedom.
- Call your State Legislator to support non-discrimination in Ohio. Find your legislator here, and then ask them to support the passage of House Bill 160 and Senate Bill 100. These bills would expand non-discrimination coverage to sexual orientation and gender identity within the state of Ohio. Since we can not count on the Federal government to protect Ohioans from discrimination, we should do it ourselves.
The only way we will make it through this is to protect ourselves and each other. Take a break when you feel burn out encroaching. The choir keeps singing while the individual singer takes a breath. That’s the only way to sustain a long note.