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Last night's Pride block party - the main lead off to today's Pride Fest in Norfolk's Town Point Park - was an amazing success with over five thousand people attending the event which was held in Norfolk's Scope. Yes, it was a party (a very good one) but it recognized the fact that LGBT Americans and LGBT Virginians more so than some others remain subject to constant attacks and denigration by politicians seeking to whip up support or to prostitute themselves to the ugliest elements of the Christian Right. The event also honored the dead and wounded in Orlando after a hate motivated attack where once again religion played a disgusting role. One amazing aspect of Pride events this year is that America's premier shipbuilder, Newport News Shipbuilding, builder of America's nuclear carrier fleet, is one of the presenting sponsors. In its lead editorial yesterday, the Virginian Pilot called for politicians - i.e., Republicans - to end their politically motivated attacks on LGBT Americans. Here are editorial highlights:
While the nation mourns the loss of lives in Orlando, the pain remains especially acute and visceral for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The shooter chose his target specifically because it was an LGBT-friendly nightclub. The victims were overwhelmingly members of this community. Evidence now suggests that the killer — married twice — may have been uncomfortably on the periphery of that same world.
Living as targets of violence and hatred, being victims of sometimes murderous intolerance, is nothing new for gay Americans. History is replete with instances of gays and lesbians brutalized for who they are or marginalized for political expediency.
Consider this an opportunity for America to do better.
[T]his specific horror represents the confluence of a great many political and social issues, and proposed solutions inspire overheated debate.
So here’s one straightforward suggestion: The nation, especially elected leaders with powerful positions of influence, should take this opportunity to affirm the equality of LGBT Americans — and stop using them as a target for political gain.
Until relatively recently, most LGBT Americans lived in the shadows, fearing the repercussions of being who they are. They feared ostracization and consequences legal, financial and physical due only to their sexual preference or gender identity.
That began to change with the Stonewall riots of 1969, generally considered the beginning of the modern LGBT movement. But, as with most civil rights movements, the transition to acceptance was achingly slow, replete with setbacks and suffering.
It wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law prohibiting certain types of intimate, consensual sex — though many such statutes remain on the books.
Over the years, dog-whistle and direct attacks on gay people have fueled successful presidential campaigns and turned state legislatures. Even same-sex marriage, settled by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, remains a flashpoint in many states, especially across the South, and especially in places where politicians think it gives them some advantage.
Republicans in North Carolina are hoping to tread this same homophobic path in the coming general election, fearful of a voter backlash against retrograde policies and nanny-state meddling in matters of the heart and bedroom. They once again intend to use gay people as a political tool for re-election.
Such nonsense has to stop. The laws, the politicking, the dog-whistles and gutter rhetoric. LGBT citizens are, first and foremost, Americans, deserving of equal protection under the law and all the rights endowed to them by the Constitution.
[T]hose who employ these cynical and divisive attacks should be condemned for doing so — and those who respond favorably to such prejudice should be ashamed. Demonizing LGBT citizens has no place in our politics, and all who seek public office should recognize that, now more than ever.
This message, of course, will fall on deaf ears among Republicans and the Christofascists.