Sunday, February 21, 2016

LGBT Civil Rights Leaders Have No Strategy to Counter the Gay Rights Backlash

Michelangelo Signorile has a length piece in Huffington Post that looks at the frightening unpreparedness of leading LGBT rights organizations to counter the anti-gay bills sweeping state legislatures as Republicans prostitute themselves to the Christofascists and foulest elements of the parasitic professional Christian class.  Meanwhile, many in the LGBT community seem clueless as to what is happening in state legislatures and blind to the ineffectiveness of LGBT rights organizations.  Here in Virginia, no gay friendly bill will pass the legislature and the only thing standing between enactment of two vile bills is our Democratic Governor.  In 2017, a new governor will be elected and if LGBT Virginians are not engaged and failed to go to the polls, that protective firewall could be lost.   Here are post highlights:
In South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard is right this moment mulling over a bill sent to his desk by the legislature that would bar transgender students -- kids often facing bullying and discrimination -- from using bathrooms or locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

In Houston, a city which had a lesbian mayor and prided itself on inclusiveness, a ballot measure rescinded the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance with an overwhelming majority last November, as opponents targeted transgender people with a campaign of hate and "bathroom panic" via television ads.

LGBT leaders not only didn't have a plan then, they've still not figured out how to deal with bathroom panic and the right's age-old tactic of exploiting people's fears about their children with regard to the presence of gay or transgender people.

More than that, some gay leaders even thought that "compromise" on civil rights was the answer, only to be duped. In Utah, a "compromise" with Mormon leaders and Mormon politicians on an LGBT rights bill -- much criticized by many grass roots LGBT activists -- was agreed upon last year. It included broad religious exemptions, and did not include protections in public accommodations at all, but was hailed by the governor and the ACLU. This supposedly was about making peace with the LDS church. But months later the church instituted a policy which condemned children of same-sex couples who are Mormon and targeted the parents for excommunication. Now Mormon politicians are embarking on a "marriage sovereignty" bill which would prevent gay couples from adopting within the state, clearly not abiding by any "compromise."

In Indiana, lawmakers last month already tried to emulate the Utah "compromise" -- a supposed LGBT bill rights bill with broad, offensive religious exemptions -- and when LGBT advocates rightly stood their ground and refused, the bill was killed altogether. That was less than a year after everyone was hailing the Indiana "turning point," when big business supposedly was going to save the day after Governor Mike Pence was forced to backtrack on a Religious Restoration Freedom Act, and bring full equality to the state.

It's as if none of that had actually happened last year -- except, it did, but it was momentary and meant very little, because both the media and big business are fair weather friends. And more importantly, LGBT leaders were overcome with victory blindness, heady over the marriage equality win that was believed to be coming down. But perhaps they're still overcome because they still don't have a strategy, though after Houston, Chad Griffin, president of the largest LGBT group, the Human Rights Campaign -- which went to Houston to spearhead the battle which they lost badly -- promised they'd have one. In subsequent interviews, however, he still hasn't adequately articulated it. 

At the very least, the Human Rights Campaign should be pressuring the Democratic candidates for president -- both of them -- to speak out fervently and specifically about these bills in Utah, Georgia, Mississippi and many other states. And the candidates, in debates and elsewhere, should be talking about how transgender kids, children who are trying to make their way in a hostile world, are under fervent attack in South Dakota. Instead, Hillary Clinton has spoken in general terms about "LGBT rights" (to her credit, however, it's been at just every debate and during other speeches), while Sanders mentioned "gay rights" in his New Hampshire victory speech while he's not gotten into the specifics of the all-out assault on LGBT rights in the states.

Sanders may be getting a large chunk of the LGBT vote, over 40 percent of a constituency that has influence larger than its numbers because of its loyalty, its donors and how those in the grass roots inspire others to get out to vote. He could pull in more from a group many had taken for granted would turn out big for Clinton. And of course, Sanders should speak on these issues in specifics not just to get voters out, but to stand against bigotry.

But with gay leaders kind of clueless about what to do, or still heady after the Supreme Court win, they've not organized the community. Many LGBT Americans aren't even aware of what's playing out. And the national media, too, appears to have blocked it out almost entirely, as these stories play under the radar. It's not surprising then that national politicians aren't talking about these alarming bills. They're not getting any direction from a community that seems itself not to even notice how anti-LGBT bigots continue their crusade against equality right before our eyes.

Meanwhile, as Democrats continue to become more deeply and angrily divided over their candidates, a new poll shows Republicans ready and willing -- 86 percent -- to vote for Donald Trump if he wins the nomination. With GOP Senate leaders hellbent on preventing President Obama from replacing Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court, it's quite possible the next president will do that. If it's Donald Trump, he's indicated he'd appoint the most extreme judges, putting up names of some with horribly anti-gay records.  

I may never to be invited to join the board of any LGBT rights organizations for a simple reason: I believe in playing Hardball and believe the opponents of LGBT equality need to be ruthlessly exposed the foul opponents of LGBT equality for the bigots and self-centered modern day Pharisees that they are.  They deserve no respect and their anti-gay animus and bigotry towards others needs to be constantly exposed. 

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