Here in Virginia, the usual suspects in the Virginia GOP have made it clear that LGBT Virginians will again become the targets of animus and efforts to thwart non-discrimination protections under the guise of protecting "religious freedom." At the national level, some GOP presidential candidates attended a gathering led by a far right lunatic who advocated for the execution of gays, and many of the GOP clown car occupants have pledged to support a license to discriminate law, but over all LGBT citizens have been off the radar screen in terms of daily attacks and denigration. However, a column in the Washington Post suggests that gays may soon become the bogey man of choice for GOP candidates striving to prostitute themselves to Christofascists in the party base. Here are column highlights:
Just because there’s been surprisingly little thunder against the gays of late doesn’t mean no one has been busy conjuring up the lightning that precedes it. And just because the Republican presidential candidates have so far been relatively quiet about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans on the campaign trail doesn’t mean they won’t turn up the volume if it suits them. Thanks to a collision of the primary calendar and actions coming to a head out in the states, it just might suit them.Religion continues to prove itself to be a great evil - an evil that too many shameless political candidates are willing to pander to in order to promote themselves with no care about the harm they do. It is beyond disgusting.
In September, we had to endure a storm over the illegal antics of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk . . . . Then, in November, we witnessed the repudiation of an anti-discrimination law that protected LGBT people in Houston. Thanks to a campaign built on lies about transgender people in public bathrooms, . . .
Since then, however, we have not seen the anti-gay-marriage backlash that many people expected would be fanned by GOP candidates fighting for the votes of evangelicals and hard-line conservatives. Does this signal widespread acceptance, at last, of the full rights of LGBT people? Or something more like the eye of the hurricane passing through? Brace yourself. It looks like it’s going to be the latter.
With this new year will come renewed attempts to use the law to discriminate against LGBT Americans, largely by deploying Davis’s “God’s authority” defense. . . . . Case in point: Florida.
In the Sunshine State, the legislature is considering HB 401, or the “Protection of Religious Freedom” bill. This nasty measure would go well beyond what was proposed in Indiana. Yes, as is common with such efforts, it would apply to — and protect from litigation — religious institutions, businesses and private adoption agencies. But it would also cover any “health care facility,” “nursing home,” “ambulatory surgery center,” “assisted living facility” or “health care provider” — which would not be “required to administer, recommend, or deliver a medical treatment or procedure that would be contrary to the religious or moral convictions or policies of the facility or health care provider.”
[I]t is discrimination masquerading as religious conviction. Period. Florida’s legislation could well turn into a fight to rival Indiana’s. Forces are lining up on both sides. Florida state Rep. Holly Raschein (R) has countered by sponsoring a business-backed anti-discrimination bill that’s also making its way through the legislature.
The issue may flare up in other places, as well. Religious refusal and anti-transgender laws have been or are being considered in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
“As troubling as this Florida bill is, this is just one way in which we are seeing religion being invoked to resist equal rights across the country,” Louise Melling, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Liberty, told me in an email. “Religious freedom protects our right to our beliefs, but not to discriminate.”
[I]n the next few months, the candidates have a huge incentive to do whatever it takes to earn the votes of evangelicals and social conservatives. In a presidential election cycle where not being “politically correct” has been polling gold, don’t be surprised when the silence on LGBT issues ends.