Monday, January 02, 2017

The Coming Onslaught of Anti-LGBT Proposals in 2017

My Trump supporting "friends" continue to thing my sense of foreboding and doom is unfounded. That's easy to say when you are a heterosexual white Christian.  For those of us that do not fall in that category, there is much to fear, especially if one is a member of the LGBT community which is a favored target of the Christofascists ascendant in the Trump/Pence cabal (one mus remember that Pence himself is vitriolically anti-LGBT).  Here in Virginia the LGBT community is protected at the state level thanks to our Democrat governor, Terry McAuliffe, but with statewide elections in November what happens in 2018 will be frightening if the Republicans win the governor's mansion.  In short, it is difficult to feel much security in 2017 and beyond.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at some of the coming attacks on LGBT Americans.  Here are article highlights:
In 2016, state legislatures across the country proposed more anti-LGBT measures than they had in almost a decade, and activists anticipate more of the same in 2017. There was some good news last year: There was a dramatic jump in proposed pro-LGBT rights bills. And in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory lost his reelection bid, and his defeat was seen as a victory for opponents of the LGBT discrimination legislation that he'd championed.
While the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision was a high point in gay rights, there are a number of proposals for 2017 whose intent is to roll them back. During a recent press call, the ACLU predicted a crop of "religious exemption" bills in the near future, laws that allow businesses and service providers to use their religious beliefs as justification for refusing service to a member of the LGBT community. "A Trump administration will embolden some of the folks in state legislatures who already wish to move legislation that harms the LGBT community," Bowman says. "That piece is very concerning."
Lawmakers in a number of states have already pre-filed discriminatory bills for 2017. Here are some of them: 
Alabama: HB24 would allow adoption agencies and foster care facilities to refuse, on the grounds of religious objections, to place kids in certain homes. The bill would also allow them to refuse to refer children to other agencies.
Missouri: HB205 would let government and religious officials refuse to perform marriages because of religious objections. SB98 aims to make transgender kids in school use an individual bathroom instead of the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Tennessee: SB1 would give mental health counselors the ability to refuse service to LGBT patients on religious grounds.
Texas: SB92 would standardize nondiscrimination laws across the state, effectively preventing localities from passing stronger protections. The ACLU also notes that Texas does not have any state-level nondiscrimination laws for LGBT citizens on the books.
The ACLU plans to keep an updated list of discriminatory bills on their website throughout the year.
Congress: In Congress, the First Amendment Defense Act, which allows refusal of service on a religious basis, and the Russell Amendment, which would allow federal contractors to do the same with hiring, are likely to be revived, this time with potentially greater chances for success.
Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress and have President-elect Trump's assurance he'll sign the bill, expect FADA to pass, inviting "widespread, devastating discrimination against LGBT people," Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal Defense Fund told NBC. "This proposed new law violates both Equal Protection and the Establishment Clause by elevating one set of religious beliefs above others." . . . Other discriminatory riders could also be attached to must-pass bills, such as defense spending or budget proposals.
Supporters of LGBT rights will renew efforts to pass the Equality Act, which would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at the federal level. . . . With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, its passage is unlikely. 
[M]any of his [Trump's] Cabinet picks have been vocally anti-gay throughout their careers. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump's pick for attorney general, co-sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act in 2014, which would have allowed states to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, even after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the Supreme Court. Tom Price, who was tapped to head the Department of Health and Human Services, called the federal recommendations for protecting trans people issued to schools and health care providers an "absurd" overreach of power.

Add to this list the rabidly anti-LGBT Betsy DeVoes, a prominent funder of a who's who of anti-gay extremist groups, who will head the Department of Education and likely move to end LGBT protections and turn a blind eye towards bullying.   

Trump supporting "friends" claim that they knew nothing of the anti-LBGT agenda that will unfold, yet had they spent a few minutes looking at the 2016 GOP party platform, the details were in plain view.  Somehow, they expect me to excuse their laziness.  I can't and I will not. 

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