Deja Vu All Over Again: The New Wave of Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks

◼︎LGBTQ+ RIGHTS:
◻︎TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY

Effective today, beginning with this post, I am adopting the expanded acronym of LGBTQ+ over simply LGBT. As I’ve delved deeper into transgender issues, I’ve come to understand the old acronym is too limiting. The “LGBT” community is broader and more diverse than the traditional 4 letters represent. There’s nothing wrong with “LGBT” and it’s frankly easier to say and type, but I would rather be more inclusive. I may explore this at a later point but feel free to check out this explanation for now.

See Addendum for late-breaking news on the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe. v. Wade and its implications for LGBTQ+ people.


I came out 47 years ago in 1975 through the Kent Gay Liberation Front (KGLF) at Kent State University. In those days the gay community was in a literal Dark Age. It had only been six years since Stonewall, and only two years since the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided we weren’t all mentally ill. It felt like almost everyone outside of New York or San Francisco was in the closet. Sodomy laws around the country made our lives and relationships illegal, even between consenting adults in the privacy of our own homes with curtains drawn and lights out. Penalties varied by state, ranging all the way up to life imprisonment.

That was then, this is now. Today we can legally marry in every state and nearly three-quarters of the America people approve. An openly gay man was a serious contender in the last presidential election. All this was unthinkable when I first came out. I’ve lived to see it and it’s nothing less than astounding.

Most movements for social justice suffer backlash after achieving a major advance. The LGBTQ+ community has endured retribution over the years for our progress, but something new is afoot. The attacks against us today are taking on a new energy and momentum, particularly since 2020.

The bigotry and lies we face today are almost identical to the past. At the same time, LGBTQ+ people today are in a better position to fight.

Opponents of LGBTQ+ rights are shifting strategy. As Politico reports, “[O]n the most prominent battlefield of the past few decades, same-sex marriage, they’ve all but conceded defeat.” Instead, they’re looking now for “soft spots” where they think we’re vulnerable and where they believe public support is weaker. To this end they’re zeroing in on transgender issues. They’re focusing their attacks now on trans people — ostensibly to protect youth, a classic ploy as I will show. But that’s just the opening salvo. In targeting our transgender brothers and sisters they’re actually seeking to take down the entire LGBTQ+ community as much as possible.

In this post — sorry for the length! — I will review our history over these past 47 years in detail, drawing the connection from where we’ve been to where we are now. The bigotry and lies we face today are almost identical to the past. I’ll then point the way forward.

LGBTQ+ people today are in a better position to fight than we were in 1975. We’ve learned valuable lessons in strategy and coalition building. We also have a deeper reservoir of public support from which to draw. But we have to understand what’s happening. I invite you to read on.


∙ WHERE WE’VE BEEN ∙

Sociopathic Personality Disturbance

It all started with the basic premise that we’re sick and dangerous. In 1952 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-I), the Bible of psychiatry, classified homosexuality as “sociopathic personality disturbance.” The DSM-II published in 1968 upgraded us to merely a “sexual deviation.” Finally in 1973 psychiatry achieved its greatest historic achievement, instantly healing some 20 million of us. The APA removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM-II. They later backtracked a bit with a new classification of “Sexual Orientation Disturbance” (SOD) in the DSM-III, but we’ll move on.

These psychiatric diagnoses were based on scientific ignorance. They fueled the fires of social prejudice and resulted in horrific cruelties. Gay people were subjected to lobotomies and electric shock therapy. Even today, some gays are subjected to inhuman “conversion” therapies. One man, Gareth, described his experience to the BBC.

In 1944, psychologist Evelyn Hooker was teaching at UCLA when a student confided in her that he was gay. Quite brave for the time! They became friends and, at his urging, she began scientific research into the phenomenon of homosexuality. She presented her findings at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago. Her paper was titled The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual.

This video tells the story of Evelyn Hooker and the impact of her work in advancing the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Battle for Our Right to Legally Exist

In 1986, the U.S Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that states could maintain and enforce their laws against sodomy. Chief Justice Warren Burger argued that “To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching.”

This Supreme Court ruling followed an incident in Georgia in 1982. Atlanta police had entered the home of Michael Hardwick to serve a warrant for public drinking a few weeks earlier. They ended up in Hardwick’s bedroom where they found him having sex with his boyfriend. They arrested both adults. The charges were subsequently dropped but Hardwick challenged the constitutionality of Georgia’s law — and unfortunately lost.

I interviewed Michael Hardwick (right) for the weekly GayWaves broadcast on Cleveland’s WRUW-FM. (Photo by Drew Cari.)

Same-sex relationships were finally legalized seventeen years later in 2003 when the U.S Supreme Court reversed itself in Lawrence v. Texas.

Despite this ruling, Idaho, the state that had punished gays with life imprisonment, continues punishing sodomy still to this day. It no longer metes out life sentences, but consenting gay adults acting in private can still end up on Idaho’s Sexual Offender Registry.

Marriage Equality

After Lawrence v. Texas, LGBTQ+ rights leapt forward at lightening speed. It took just a dozen years for SCOTUS to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015. In Obergefell v. Hodges the majority ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marry as one of our fundamental liberties. They also ruled the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees this right as well.

In 1996, just 27% of Americans supported gay marriage. By the time SCOTUS ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, support had increased to 60%. Today it’s at 70% — and now there’s even support among a small majority of Republican voters.

Source: Gallup

The Equality Act

Even after sodomy was legalized in 2003, I never in my wildest imagination expected to see same-sex marriage in my lifetime. That was simply a bridge too far. Few in the LGBTQ+ movement seriously thought of it. Marriage equality was mentioned, but not as a serious central demand. We were focused instead on “achievable” goals like the Equality Act.

In 1974, Bella Abzug and Ed Koch, later to be New York mayor, introduced the first anti-discrimination bill in the U.S. Congress to protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The bill went straight into the wastebasket. But thereafter and continuing today, a new anti-discrimination bill has been reintroduced in all but one Congressional session. The bill (H.R. 5) is pending yet again. We’re coming up on 50 years and still it hasn’t passed! Even with marriage equality we lack fundamental protections. Quite literally, gays can legally marry on Sunday and be legally fired on Monday for having done so.


Long History Of Fear, Prejudice & Hatred

It’s been a long, hard journey getting to where we are today. Through the decades we’ve fought a seemingly endless battle against those who slander us as sick and dangerous, as depraved monsters. Throughout, the goal has been to keep us invisible and in the closet.

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower issued Executive Order No. 10450 that said “sexual perversion” was a fireable offense. This, of course, referred to homosexuality. It fell right in line with the scare mongering of that period fomented by Senator Joseph McCarthy. David Johnson details this in his book The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.

In 1961 this anti-homosexual scare film was released by Sid Davis Productions and shown in schools across the country. It may seem comical now, but it was no laughing matter then and shouldn’t be now. It reflects beliefs still held by too many people to this day.

The documentary Stonewall Uprising contains this chilling clip showing a police detective speaking to a school assembly about the danger of homosexuality. Any young closeted gays in the audience must surely have felt terrorized. I know I would!

From Stonewall Uprising, a film by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, based on the book by David Carter. It is available for streaming at PBS’ An American Experience, or can be purchased at Shop PBS.

An Eternal Threat to Youth. The idea that LGBTQ+ people pose a dire threat to youth — specifically that we “recruit” or “groom” young people — is a classic trope. We saw it with Anita Bryant, John Briggs and Jerry Falwell as I will describe below. We still see it today in the surge of “Don’t Say Gay” laws, anti-transgender laws and book banning laws being passed across the country. It’s proven to be a very effective tactic to spread lies and arouse the fears and passions of those sucked in. It’s like 2020 election fraud conspiracies on steroids.


Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit.

– Anita Bryant

Anita BryanT: Save Our Children

In 1977, Dade County, Florida (later renamed Miami-Dade County), passed an ordinance protecting homosexuals from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. Singer and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant spearheaded an aggressive and high-profile national campaign to repeal the ordinance. Under the banner of ‘Save Our Children,’ Bryant based her campaign on a slander that has become a template for other anti-LGBTQ+ hate movements to this day. Proclaiming that gays pose a moral danger to all children, Bryant said that “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit.” 

Full-page ads in the Miami Herald declared that teachers were having sex with their students and said homosexuals were organizing children into prostitution rings. The ads reminded readers that back in the good ol’ days homosexuals used to be stoned to death.

A referendum was held on June 7, 1977. Voters overwhelmingly repealed the anti-discrimination ordinance 2 to 1 (69% for repeal & 31% against). Flush with success Bryant took her campaign on the road to other states, spurring a crusade against LGBTQ+ rights that has continued ever since.

This 75-minute compilation by SuchIsLifeVideos is an invaluable history of Anita Bryant’s campaign, its tactics and distortions.


We don’t allow people who believe in practicing bestiality to teach our children. We don’t let prostitutes teach our children.

– John Briggs

The ‘Briggs Initiative’: Proposition 6

In June 1977, the very next day after Bryant’s victory, California State Senator John Briggs sought to harness the momentum Bryant created to pass a law is his state banning gays, lesbians and anyone supporting them from working in California schools. He couldn’t get the state senate to go along, so in 1978 he organized a ballot initiative: Proposition 6. It required the firing of any teacher who was found to be “advocating, imposing, encouraging or promoting” homosexual activity.

Briggs followed in Bryant’s footsteps portraying homosexuality as a clear and present danger to children and youth, requiring that they be protected from even the mention of it. He asserted that mere exposure to us could coerce children into the homosexual lifestyle. “We don’t allow people who believe in practicing bestiality to teach our children,” he said. “We don’t let prostitutes teach our children. And the reason we don’t is because it is illegal to be a prostitute. But it is not illegal to be a homosexual in California” — and therefore Proposition 6 was needed.

Ramy K. Khalil wrote about Proposition 6 in his master’s thesis at Western Washington University. He showed that the Briggs Initiative was “more extreme than the anti-gay ballot initiatives in other states.” He made this chilling observation:

“Proposition 6 required school districts to terminate employment of LGBT or straight people who expressed any sympathy toward homosexuality, on or off the job, whereas the ballot initiatives in other states merely repealed special protections against discrimination for gays or lesbians [emphasis added].”

California State Senator John Briggs (left) in a debate over Proposition 6 on KOCE-TV in Huntington Beach, CA. The debate can be viewed at the American Archive for Public Broadcasting. Jump to 28 minutes for the start of this segment.
Harvey Milk (right) campaigning with longshoremen in San Francisco, 1976.

What Briggs clearly didn’t expect was the enormous force that his attack unleashed within the gay and lesbian community. Residents of the 5th District in San Francisco, which included Castro Street, had just elected Harvey Milk as their City Supervisor (“councilman” in many cities). Milk was enormously popular and extremely skilled at building coalitions uniting the LGBTQ+ community, Asians, labor, senior citizens and others. Milk, other emerging gay leaders, unions and the community-at-large took Briggs head-on. He hardly knew what hit him.

This clip is a from the film Milk, starring Sean Pean as Harvey Milk. It presents a verbatim exchange during a debate between Briggs and Milk. (I’m using the movie since the quality here is better than the original news clip.)

The fight against Proposition 6 was an uphill battle. Polls in August showed Briggs winning with a two-thirds majority statewide opposing the gay community. By election day three months later, on November 7, 1978, California voters dealt Briggs and Proposition 6 a resounding defeat — 58.4% to 41.6%. Even Ronald Reagan came out against Briggs!

Khalil wrote in his thesis,

“Proposition 6 was defeated by LGBT people, labor unions, feminists, and other allies who organized a powerful grassroots movement involving highly visible protests and actions that successfully confronted the homophobic arguments behind Proposition 6.”

The Briggs Initiative and our response to it in 1978 was perhaps the LGBTQ+ community’s next big leap forward after the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City. I think it raised the gay liberation movement to a new level. This video by QueerPOTUS recaps some of the early gay history I’ve covered above, and then details the fight against Proposition 6.


We should blame them for every social problem in America.

– Gordon Wysong, Commissioner, Cobb County, Colorado

A History of Hate

Being an old geezer who came out on the heels of Stonewall, I’ve seen quite a lot in my day. The list below is just a snapshot of some of the history I’ve personally witnessed. It may be exhausting in length but it’s not exhaustive. These are just selected “highlights” showing how much the LGBTQ+ community has had to combat. Also missing is the history before my time — the 40s, 50s, 60s and earlier.

To that point, as an aside, my husband and I are in the middle of watching Pride, an excellent 6-part FX Network documentary series now streaming on Hulu. It’s very well done and covers LGBTQ+ history decade-by-decade starting in the 1950s.

And now to my ‘History of Hate’ cataloging some of the events since Anita Bryant and John Briggs (in mostly chronological order):

◼︎Government Indifference to AIDS Killed Gay Men. The AIDS epidemic emerged after President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Almost two years into the Reagan Administration, Press Secretary Larry Speakes joked about the disease and its victims during a press conference. Reagan was said to give great lisping imitations of gay people. Despite the mounting death toll, Reagan never mentioned the disease publicly until late 1985 — and only because he was cornered and pressed by a reporter. In 1986 he declared AIDS “one of our highest public-health priorities” then promptly cut federal funding for research and treatment. By the time he left office there had been 83,000 confirmed cases and nearly 50,000 deaths — with virtually nothing done. The implicit message was clear: “Gay lives don’t count.” Like many in the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve lost people to AIDS including one of my closest and dearest friends from high school.

Above: Slogan and button from ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power.
Right: AIDS Memorial Quilt on display in Washington, DC.

◼︎Colorado’s Amendment 2. In 1992 Colorado voters approved Amendment 2 that amended the state Constitution to “prohibit the state of Colorado and any of its political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing any law or policy which provides that homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, or relationships constitutes or entitles a person to claim any minority or protected status, quota preferences, or discrimination.” The amendment was subsequently overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans where the Court found that this state prohibition violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

◼︎Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 1982 the U.S. Department of Defense had issued a report declaring that “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” In July 1993, President William Clinton announced a new Department of Defense policy called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It was supposed to be a compromise allowing gays to serve in the military so long as they kept their identity a secret. In practice discharges continued — indeed 14% of all recorded military discharges for sexual orientation occurred under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Such discharges had serious repercussions including loss of full VA benefits. The policy was eventually repealed in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

◼︎Cobb County Resolution. In August 1993 the Cobb County Commission in Georgia passed a resolution condemning “the life styles advocated by the gay community” as incompatible with Cobb County standards. One organizer behind the resolution stated that “We should blame them for every social problem in America.” 

◼︎Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Following “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” President Clinton went one better signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in November 1993. As the New York Times explained, this new law overturned “a 1990 Supreme Court ruling that set a looser standard for laws that restrict religious practices.” This new law placed individual religious freedoms ahead of general public health or safety, or the Constitutional rights of other individuals with differing religious beliefs or no religious beliefs. Both Democrats and Republicans went all-in supporting this law. As the Times reported, the Senate bill was “sponsored by Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.” The House bill was “sponsored by Representative Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of Brooklyn, and Representative Christopher C. Cox, Republican of California.”

◼︎Defense of Marriage Act. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This law defined marriage as solely a union between one man and one woman. The implications were monumental. States that didn’t allow same-sex marriage could refuse to recognize a legal marriage from another state. (My husband and I married in New York in 2014, but our home state Ohio didn’t recognize us as married.) Adoption and child custody were impacted. Over 1,000 federal protections and privileges were withheld including access to a spouse’s employment benefits, the rights of inheritance, joint tax returns and exemptions, and the right to cohabit together in college or military housing. DOMA was later overturned through two Supreme Court rulings, United States v. Windsor in 2013 and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. The latter officially legalized marriage nationally.

◼︎Boy Scouts Allowed to Discriminate. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that “applying New Jersey’s public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit [openly gay troop members or scoutmasters] violates the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment right of expressive association.” Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote this “would, at the very least, force the organization to send a message, both to the young members and the world, that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior.” Subsequently as public support increased, gay troop members were admitted in 2013 and later scoutmasters in 2015.

◼︎Marriage Bans Swept Country. In November 2004, voter referendums in 11 states passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as DOMA had — as solely a union between one man and one woman.

◼︎Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In 2015, following President Clinton’s lead from 1993, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. It stated that “Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability [emphasis added].” Stripping away the legalese, the law stipulated that if someone felt their religious freedom was being violated — being asked to bake a same-sex wedding cake, for instance — he or she was exempt from the normal obligation to provide this routine public accommodation. That is, “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” Governor Pence appeared on ABC in an interview with George Stephanopoulos where he was practically reduced to stammering trying to justify the law.

◼︎Adoption Backlash. Following the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a growing number of states are using their RFRA laws to allow organizations to refuse adoptions to married same-sex couples. This is hurtful to the couples, of course, but even more so to the children who must remain without loving parents. The First Amendment Encyclopedia reports that “excluding LGBTQ couples make adopting children, many with special needs, more difficult.”

◼︎Transgender Military Ban. In April 2019 the President Donald Trump barred all transgender people from serving in the military, reversing an Obama Administration policy from 2016 that allowed trans people to serve. Close to 15,000 transgender troops were actively serving at the time.

◼︎Trump Administration Attacks. The election of Donald Trump as President triggered an uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ attacks, leading ultimately to the massive upsurge we see today at the state level. These are a few of the legislative and administrative attacks leveled against us during the years of the Trump Administration:

    • In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order No. 13798 giving federal agencies a license-to-discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and women. The Department of Justice prepared a roadmap for agencies to follow in implementing the Executive Order.
    • In 2017, in an effort to keep us invisible, the Trump Administration sought to exclude questions regarding LGBTQ+ people from the 2020 Census. Most questions were removed except a small crack was left open through which some counting was still possible if respondents took care to indicate another person in the household was a “Same-sex husband/wife/spouse” or “Same-sex unmarried partner.”
    • In 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss revoked protections for transgender students under Title IX of the Higher Education Act. Her policies also negatively impacted other LGBTQ+ students and victims of sexual assault. (Under the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of Education restored Title IX protections last year.)
    • In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), under Secretary Ben Carson, issued a proposed rule revoking protection of homeless LGBTQ+ people and youth in community shelters. (Under the Biden Administration, HUD restored LGBTQ+ homeless protections last year.)
    • In 2019 the Justice Department filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that LGBTQ+ people should be excluded from protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

◼︎Gays Caused 9/11. I’ll finish my list with an item from the “You Can’t Make It Up” Department. A few days after the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001, Rev. Jerry Falwell blamed 9/11 on “the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle.” He subsequently apologized, saying he didn’t actually mean to blame us. He didn’t? He sounded pretty clear to me. Listen for yourself:

This statement by Falwell is so obviously absurd, the first impulse is to laugh it off. After all, this is the same Falwell who in 1999 got all worked up over Tinky Winky of TV’s Teletubbies for supposedly ”modeling the gay life style” to children under age 3.

But what’s absurd to one can be God’s Truth to another. And in this age of social media, QAnon, Pizzagate, fake news and a stolen 2020 election, absurd notions become mainstream. And they can lead to dangerous and deadly consequences.


A Word About
LGBTQ+ “Community”

Before going further, I need to say a few words about our community. I’ve been told several times during online debates that no such thing as an LGBTQ+ “community” can exist. The people who’ve asserted this are not themselves LGBTQ+ (with one possible exception). These outsiders presume to tell us who we can consider as our “community” or “family.” The reason, they argue, is because we are too diverse with completely different issues. This makes any notion of LGBTQ+ “community” a material impossibility. A corollary to this position is that the struggle for transgender rights undermines and endangers gay rights. Both are false.

Aside from the arrogant dictate about our lives, the question of LGBTQ+ “community” is worth discussing. I have to agree that we comprise a vast array of different people and consequently we vary quite a bit amongst ourselves. To start, sexual orientation and gender identity are distinctly different phenomena. We also vary by age, class, religion, politics, professions, interests and more. We are quick to point out that “We are everywhere!” — so it stands to reason we’re going to have lots of differences.

The Pew Research Center conducted a Survey of LGBT Americans in 2013. It covers quite a lot, including LGBTQ+ peoples’ view of “community.” One of the many things this survey examined was the degree to which each group under the LGBTQ+ umbrella (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) feel they share common values and concerns with the other groups. As the exhibit here shows there’s a diversity of opinion. There’s no unanimous perception of LGBTQ+ community, but there is nonetheless a broad consensus. It’s clear the majority of us feel a sense of shared community, issues and fate.

To the degree that LGBTQ+ people feel in community with each other, a lot has to do with what we share in historical and contemporary experience. The National Institute of Health (NIH) put it this way:

“…the main commonality across these diverse groups is their members’ historically marginalized social status relative to society’s cultural norm of the exclusively heterosexual individual who conforms to traditional gender roles and expectations. Put another way, these groups share the common status of “other” because of their members’ departures from heterosexuality and gender norms. Their “otherness” is the basis for stigma and its attendant prejudice, discrimination, and violence, which underlie society’s general lack of attention to their health needs and many of the health disparities…”

Marsha P. Johnson

It’s a bit clinical, perhaps, but I think that’s a good summation. While no one was using the acronym at first, LGBTQ+ people have fought together side by side since the dawn of the modern gay liberation movement, and before. As we enter a new wave of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks, it’s important to recall the central role of the transgender community in fighting for all LGBTQ+ people.

Transvestites and transgender people were on the front lines during the Stonewall Riots — and by some accounts they launched and led that battle in June 1969 which gave rise to all the progress we’ve made since. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are celebrated to this day. The City of New York has placed a monument to Johnson in the park across the street from the Stonewall Inn. After Stonewall, Johnson and Rivera founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to meet the needs of street youth and transgender youth.

And they didn’t start in 1969. Transvestites and transgender people were battling the police years earlier, including the Compton Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco in August 1966.

The cynics notwithstanding, there is a genuine LGBTQ+ community and it’s coming under siege. Those attacking us are aiming first and foremost at what they consider our weak flank, the transgender community. They’re hoping that anti-trans scare tactics and demagoguery can shatter public support enabling them to topple all LGBTQ+ rights — possibly up to and including same-sex marriage.

Some say this shows that transgender people are a threat to the historic achievements of the gay rights movement and we should jettison them. I could not disagree more adamantly. Just the opposite! Transgender people put themselves in harm’s way at Stonewall defending all of us, and have continued in the days since. We can’t turn around now and throw them under the bus. We must now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them.


∙ WHERE WE ARE TODAY ∙

Deja Vu All Over Again

With the above history and explanation of community as background, I’ll fast forward now to the present.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is nothing new, but since about 2020 we’ve seen a dramatic upsurge in new bills and laws at the state level. The numbers are unprecedented, and growing exponentially. Never before have there been this many bills in such a short period. According to Bloomberg, last year at least 27 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law around the country — with 325 new bills proposed thus far in 2022 and at least 7 signed into law.

The counts vary according to source. Below I use a lower count of “just” 261 bills where the source, Freedom for All Americans, lists and links to each individual bill. Either way, whether its 325 or 261, a single bill alone would be too many!

Given all our progress these past 53 years since Stonewall, many of us old-timers have probably grown a bit complacent thinking the war is won. I also suspect that many younger gays take things today for granted. After all, this is the world they’ve always known. Well, the pendulum swings, and we now find ourselves having to re-fight old battles. It’s deja vu, all over again.

Attacks Are Out-Of-Step with Public Opinion

This new wave of attacks seems out of step with the beliefs and attitudes of the American public. The swift rise in public backing for same-sex marriage was extraordinary. It couldn’t have occurred, of course, unless public acceptance of gays and lesbians generally had also increased. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago has looked at public attitudes about homosexuality over the decades:

“The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent.”

Polling by Gallup has similar findings. In 1986, 57% of respondents believed that gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should always be illegal. This dropped to 18% by 2021.

Support for Transgender People. In preparing this essay I started out believing that pubic support of transgender people falls far below gays and lesbians. I personally know a few gays and lesbians who oppose transgender rights at one level or another. I’ve also gotten into pretty intense disagreements with some non-gay friends and acquaintances who I had always assumed support trans people — only to find out they don’t. And it’s understandable to a degree. Gender identity pushes the envelope in what used to be considered by most as a black & white question.

In doing my research, however, I was quite happy to discover there’s rather high public support of the transgender community, and trans youth especially. Last year a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found huge public opposition to bills aimed at restricting the rights of transgender youth to access transition-related medical care — the very bills that are sweeping through the country now. Ironically, Republicans supported transgender youth more than Democrats by a slim 1% margin.

Source: PBS News Hour

Support of trans people is softer, though still quite strong, when polls drill down to specific issues like participation in sports, use of restrooms, etc. Gallup has assembled extensive data on all this.

Just as I hadn’t realized the degree of support trans people enjoy, I don’t think those attacking us realize either. They know how much support gays have, so going after things like marriage equality is too difficult — at least for now. Instead they’re aiming at the trans community and trans youth. As I’ve said, they’re hoping that anti-trans scare tactics can shatter public support for LGBTQ+ people across the board. They’re playing the cynical “Save Our Children” card. It’s worked before, so why not now?

As this graphic from NBC shows, over half the anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced since 2018 have led with some sort of attack against transgender people — primarily youth — their parents, doctors, counselors and anyone who dares support them.

Screenshot from NBC News Now

The assertion is made implicitly and explicitly that any mention to young people of same-sex relationships, same-sex parents, gender identity and related subjects constitutes “recruitment” or “grooming.” It’s not quite to the level of QAnon’s notions about pedophiles and Satan-worshippers dominating government and the Democratic Party, but there’s certainly an echo.

This new wave of anti-LGBTQ+ laws is not just trying to drive us underground and back into the closet. It seeks to terrorize LGBTQ+ people, our families and our supporters with threats of fines running to tens of thousands, felony prosecutions and jail. It seeks to deprive us of our basic democratic rights, social services and medical care.

Book Banning

Like the world of Fahrenheit 451 come to life, books related to LGBTQ+ issues generally, gender identity particularly, race and other subjects are being banned from schools and even colleges across the country. As reported by the Washington Post,

The American Library Association tracked 729 attempts to remove library, school and university materials last year, leading to 1,597 book challenges or removals. For comparison, the association counted challenges or bans of 273 books in 2020, 377 in 2019 and 483 in 2018.

It’s worth noting that book banning is not a tactic exclusive to anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives. There have been demands by liberals as well to remove books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn because of racist stereotypes. This is equally unjustifiable, nonetheless anti-LGBTQ+ forces are raising this “cancel culture” tactic to an art form.

PBS ran this report:

“Don’t Say Gay”

When books are banned, speech is soon to follow. In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill (HB 1557) into law. More than a dozen other states are proposing to do likewise.

The name “parental rights” sounds reasonable and innocent enough, but its effect is insidious. Dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, its core provision states:

“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students [emphasis added].”

Referencing laws like this, a gay-supportive heterosexual friend remarked that he doesn’t favor of “a free for all when it comes to sexual topics being directed at children.” He had, unwittingly, absorbed the propaganda that anti-LGBTQ+ forces are using. No serious person is advocating explicit sexual discussion or instruction concerning LGBTQ+ matters in elementary school classrooms. Inappropriate discussions and other misconduct can already be dealt with whether homosexual or heterosexual in nature. Instead, laws like Florida’s define the mere acknowledgment of gender identity or same-sex relationships and marriage as a de facto harm. Again, it’s said to be abusive and to constitute “grooming” — “recruitment” as Anita Bryant claimed.

In today’s world there are many situations where same-sex relationships or families can come up naturally in the course of normal classroom discussion, even at the elementary school level. For instance a gay teacher who just got married. The heterosexual teacher in the next classroom can talk about it, but the gay teacher can’t. He or she has to lie or evade the issue altogether by quickly changing the subject. A child with same-sex parents must not be allowed to mention them because doing so almost certainly invites questions needing a forbidden explanation. Families with same-sex parents are more and more common. The forced silence can cause students to feel shame about themselves and their family. It also creates a perfect environment for bullying. How do you stop bullies when you can’t explain that it’s OK if their victim has two Dads or two Moms?

This stuff really happens. This boy in Utah was shamed in front of the class by his teacher for having two Dads. Fortunately this particular boy was strong and self-confident enough to cope, and he had friends who stepped up to defend him. The school was also allowed to address the problem. But should this to happen today in Florida or in other states adopting copycat “Don’t Say Gay” laws, the outcome could be very serious.

The portion of the law I italicized above…

“or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”

…is a catch-all to prohibit discussions even through 12th grade. By this time many gay, bisexual and transgender students will know their identity and want to come out, but will be legally forbidden to do so. Any teachers or school staff who provide comfort and care will be breaking the law at great personal and professional risk.

Here are just two cases in point:

𝟭. Jack Petocz is a gay 17-year-old high school junior In Flagler County, Florida, facing retaliation for speaking out against Florida’s new law. He bought and distributed pride flags to students and led a peaceful protest. For this he was suspended and permanently barred from running for any student body office. He posted a statement about this on Twitter. Florida’s new law isn’t limited to “protecting” young elementary school students. It’s a muzzle barring discussion of LGBTQ+ issues even at the high school level.

𝟮. Zander Moricz is a gay 18-year-old senior who graduated this past weekend from Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, a suburb of Tampa. He was elected president of his class all four years in high school. He’s also a lead a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Florida’s law. When he planned to discuss gay rights in his graduation speech, school officials told Moricz they would “cut off my microphone, end my speech, and halt the ceremony.” He posted on Twitter, “I am the first openly gay class president in my school’s history. This censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.” Precisely.

In the end Moricz delivered his speech — uisng a carefully constructed euphemism that never should have been necessary. He was interviewed Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

You can also watch his full speech.

Another provision in the Florida law is designed to chill free speech by threat of legal action:

“A parent of a student may bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates this paragraph and seek injunctive relief.”

It’s now Open Season where everyone in every Florida school system is in potential jeopardy. No doubt every district has one or more parents who will react to something that’s happened or rumored to have happened. Teacher, staff or administrator heads will roll.

Finally, I want point out this provision in the Florida law:

“A school district may not adopt procedures or student support forms that require school district personnel to withhold from a parent information about his or her student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in related services or monitoring, or that encourage or have the effect of encouraging a student to withhold from a parent such information, unless a reasonably prudent person would believe that such disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect, as those terms are defined in s. 39.01 [emphasis added].”

This provision, far from “protecting” children, could well result in their injury or death. It is critically important that young people who think they might be gay, bisexual or transgender have the opportunity to explore this and seek counsel without their parents’ knowledge.

I italicized the clause above stating that parents don’t need to be informed when it’s felt that abuse, abandonment, or neglect might occur — but frankly I don’t trust this to be adequately followed. The entire Florida law is intended to chill LGBTQ+ rights at every level. Any teacher or counselor that seeks to rely on this clause is taking a huge legal and career risk as I just noted.

Victimization of LGBTQ+ children by bigoted parents — emotional and physical — is a major problem. Homelessness is a crisis among LGBT youth. Estimates vary, but at any given time about 2 million youth are homeless in the U.S., with as many as 40% self-identifying as LGBTQ+. Some are thrown to the curb by parents while others choose to leave because of rejection, hostility and violence. The Trevor Project reports that suicide rates for these homeless youth jump precipitously.

Source: The Trevor Project

Religious Exemption Laws

Attacks like Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act are increasing. A big focus in the current wave of anti-LBGTQ+ attacks are new laws allowing those claiming religious objections to deny basic public accommodations, adoption, and medical care — even when emergency medical treatment is needed in a life-threatening crisis.

In my home state of Oho, Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill into law last year that allows hospitals, physicians, and health insurance companies to refuse any medical treatment that violates their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. It also grants healthcare providers immunity from lawsuit for any consequences resulting from such withholding. This could potentially cover any number of things including abortion and contraception for women, but anti-LGBTQ+ animus was the primary motivation. This followed on the heels of similar laws signed in Arkansas, South Dakota, and Montana.

These maps overview laws granting a religious “rights” priority over the rights and even the lives of LGBTQ+ people in completely secular settings. The tabs at the top open different maps. (If you encounter display issues with this interactive map, visit the source website.)

I believe such laws forcing religious values — usually conservative Christian values — on the rest of society are an abuse of the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution opens with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the Founding Fathers were explicit that there should be a separation of church and state. The 1797 Treaty with Tripoli, written by John Adams and ratified by the U.S. Senate, states in Article 11:

“The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

The Founding Fathers wrote extensively about religion in the Federalist Papers and considered religious freedom paramount. The first settlers had come to America in order to escape religious persecution during the reign of King James I. The Founding Fathers intended that people be free to hold the religious views of their choice and to worship freely without persecution — but not to impose their religious values on others of different faiths or no faith. That would King James all over again!

These laws are going to cost LBGTQ+ lives.

Transgender Youth in the Crosshairs

As I’ve said several times here, this resurgent assault on LGBTQ+ people is targeted first and foremost against transgender people. They know public support for gays and lesbians is too strong to attack directly, so transgender people and their supporters are being cast as the new villains. Gender identity is a mental illness. Those giving care and support to transgender youth are “groomers.” They’re dark and sinister child molesters.

New day, same old story.

Alabama, the state that passed a new law making abortion a felony punishable by up to 99 years in jail, has also made gender-affirming care for youth a felony as well, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Portions of the law have been put on hold by Court Injunction pending litigation, but other states are following along similar lines. It’s clear where this is headed.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott directed that state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to open child abuse investigations against parents who pursue gender-affirming health care for their trans children. Faculty from the Yale Law School, the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center and the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics have issued a detailed report that systematically debunks the “scientific” claims made by Alabama and Texas to justify their anti-trans laws and policies.

The forces opposing transgender people love to quote science — old science frozen in time and/or science that’s distorted and misrepresented. This is not to say everything is settled. That’s seldom the case in science, which is or should constantly put old established beliefs to the test. A lot still remains unknown about gender identity, but we at least know it’s not exclusively anatomical or XX/XY.

Most of us in the LGBTQ+ movement understood there would be a backlash against the swift progress we’ve enjoyed. Regrettably our predictions have borne out, and then some. Since the SCOTUS ruling in 2015 granting marriage equality, there has been a marked increase in state laws targeted against the LGBTQ+ community.

The Freedom for All Americans website maintains a legislative tracker listing all the anti-transgender bills pending in state legislatures — already at 140 bills this year across 34 states! And it’s not even June yet.

For a summary of each state & bill, go to Freedom for All Americans.

Ohio HB454. A typical example of the bills being proposed is Ohio’s HB454, the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act” (SAFE). This bill mandates sweeping prohibitions in services to transgender youth including all “gender transition procedures” to youth under 18:

“Gender transition procedures” means any medical or surgical service, including physician services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, or prescription drugs related to gender transition, that seeks to alter or remove physical or anatomical characteristics or features that are typical for the individual’s biological sex, or to instill or create physiological or anatomical characteristics that resemble a sex different from the individual’s birth sex including medical services that provide puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or other mechanisms to promote the development of feminizing or masculinizing features in the opposite sex, or genital or non-genital gender reassignment surgery performed for the purpose of assisting an individual with a gender transition.

On its surface, the bill might appear halfway reasonable. Much of the prohibition above is consistent with existing medical and ethical practices as defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). These stipulate, among other things, criteria governing irreversible surgical interventions, including:

    • Patients have the capacity to make fully-informed decisions and give consent for treatment, and
    • Patients have reached the legal age of majority in a given country [age 18 in the U.S.], and
    • Patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity.

But Ohio’s bill goes beyond just prohibiting surgical intervention. It also bans the use of puberty blockers and “cross-sex hormones.” This crosses the line by taking medical decision-making out of doctor’s offices and into the State House.

WPATH criteria approves the use of hormone therapy in some cases with youth age 16 and above, but warns that some effects are not reversible. Doctors, parents/guardians and patients should consider the possible consequences carefully.

Puberty-blockers are another matter altogether. The effects of puberty-blockers are considered fully reversible. WPATH’s Standards of Care for the Health of Transexual, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People summarizes the medical options available, noting that puberty-blockers are fully reversible (page 18).

Physical interventions for adolescents fall into three categories or stages (Hembree et al., 2009):

      1. Fully reversible interventions. These involve the use of GnRH analogues to suppress estrogen or testosterone production and consequently delay the physical changes of puberty. Alternative treatment options include progestins (most commonly medroxyprogesterone) or other medications (such as spironolactone) that decrease the effects of androgens secreted by the testicles of adolescents who are not receiving GnRH analogues. Continuous oral contraceptives (or depot medroxyprogesterone) may be used to suppress menses.
      2. Partially reversible interventions. These include hormone therapy to masculinize or feminize the body. Some hormone-induced changes may need reconstructive surgery to reverse the effect (e.g., gynaecomastia caused by estrogens), while other changes are not reversible (e.g., deepening of the voice caused by testosterone).
      3. Irreversible interventions. These are surgical procedures.

Even with puberty blockers there are standards of care. WPATH goes on to outline criteria for the appropriate use of puberty blockers (page 19).

In order for adolescents to receive puberty-suppressing hormones, the following minimum criteria must be met:

      1. The adolescent has demonstrated a long-lasting and intense pattern of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria (whether suppressed or expressed);
      2. Gender dysphoria emerged or worsened with the onset of puberty;
      3. Any coexisting psychological, medical, or social problems that could interfere with treatment (e.g, that may compromise treatment adherence) have been addressed, such that the adolescent’s situation and functioning are stable enough to start treatment;
      4. The adolescent has given informed consent and, particularly when the adolescent has not reached the age of medical consent, the parents or other caretakers or guardians have consented to the treatment and are involved in supporting the adolescent throughout the treatment process.

In Ohio, though, none of this will count. Conservative lawmakers have decided they know better than the medical professionals.

A central argument in the abortion rights discussion is that women and their doctors should be allowed to make medical decisions without government intervention, prohibitions and mandates. I think the same principle applies here. Those same rights should apply for a transgender youth, his or her parents or guardian, and doctors.

A central argument in the abortion rights discussion is that women and their doctors should be allowed to make medical decisions without government intervention, prohibitions and mandates. I think the same principle applies here. Those same rights should apply for a transgender youth, his or her parents or guardian, and doctors.

A sign at an abortion rights defense rally this month in Cleveland pointed out the intersection between abortion rights and transgender rights.

Medical professionals found to be in violation of Ohio’s HB454 will be guilty of “unprofessional conduct and shall be subject to discipline by the licensing entity with jurisdiction over the physician, mental health provider, or other medical health care professional.” At least it’s not a felony like Alabama!

Bills like Ohio’s HB454 are a problem on many levels. There are ample laws on the books now to address cases of medical malpractice or misconduct. These new laws are not needed to protect trans youth. Far from protecting them, these laws are stripping them of their rights, their dignity and their humanity. Legislators in State Houses across the country are acting out of hatred and animus, misinformation, and political expediency. Their claims of protecting trans youth are a cynical lie. Their true intent is to drive trans youth — and by extension, all LGBTQ+ people — back into the closet.

Other Anti-Trans Attacks. In addition to medical prohibitions like Ohio’s HB454, other anti-trans bills aim their attack along lines such as these (a few of which I’ve already touched on):

    • Require that any “nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, or other official or staff at a public or private school” out a trans youth to his or her parents if the youth is questioning his or her gender identity. Parental involvement in medical care as WPATH calls for above is one thing. By that time the issue has progressed to a point that parents must be involved due to legal requirements, medical ethics and common sense. But questioning one’s gender identity, like wondering if one is gay or lesbian, is something a youth must be allowed to explore in secret from his or her parents. I explained above the literal life & death dangers that sometimes result from a premature outing.
    • Bar trans youth from participation in girls’ or boys’ sports — often with blanket prohibitions that don’t allow for any consideration of individual circumstances such as status of transition, physical size, strength, muscle mass, etc.
    • Limit or prohibit access to bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., that match a trans youth’s gender identity. Again as with the sports prohibitions, these bills offer little or no accommodation to individual circumstances. The specific youth affected or issues concerning a building’s configuration may play a role that these bills don’t make allowance for.
    • Prohibit changing the sex designations on birth certificates.
    • Allow doctors — and anyone from ambulance drivers to nurses to insurance companies and beyond — to withhold potentially life-saving care from LGBTQ+ people if they have religious or “deeply-held” objections to the person’s identity.
    • Allow teachers and school staff to refuse to address a trans youth by his or her preferred name and pronouns — based strictly on the teacher’s personal feelings and sensibilities with no regard to the student’s feelings. I’ve seen this defended by assertion that a requirement to use names and pronouns is a violation of a teachers free speech rights. That’s absurd. The logic of this position would extend to doctors being allowed to withhold life-saving care from a sick or injured LGBTQ+ person. Teachers can say whatever they want to each or to the school board or in an op-ed in the paper, but in a classroom the needs of students take priority. Use of names and pronouns is the simplest courtesy that can be extended to a trans youth. It hurts no one and is fully reversible! 
    • Deny or revoke public funding to any person, program, agency, government jurisdiction, etc., that acts in violation of any of these prohibitions.
    • And, as we see if the case of Alabama, criminalize support for transgender and other LGBTQ+ people.

BUT THERE’S MORE…

In addition to the 140 anti-trans bills listed above, there are another 121 bills currently pending in 37 states — for a grand total of 261 bills this year! While over 50% of these bills (140) are focused on trans youth and trans people generally, it’s clear the haters are aiming at anyone and anything LGBTQ+.

For a summary of each state & bill, go to Freedom for All Americans.

The numbers are stunning. There is nothing in the past that compares. This period is without precedent. The only difference between now and when I came out in 1975 is that the whole of society and government was thoroughly anti-LGBTQ+. They didn’t need a wave of legislation because the laws against us were long established. There were the laws against sodomy, against serving in the military or government, and a zillion other things. All these laws were considered plain common sense. Questioning them was like questioning gravity.

Now it’s different. We’re out by the millions and accepted by almost three quarters of the public. The haters face an uphill battle to reimpose the dark oppression that prevailed in the past. To do this they need new laws — and to accomplish this, they need a new pariah to arouse fear and hatred: transgender people.

∙ WHERE TO FROM HERE? ∙

Organize!

The state legislatures cranking out all these anti-LGBTQ+ bills are dominated by rightwing and conservative Republicans, many or all molded in the Trump tradition. You might be assuming, therefore, that we should be supporting the Democrats. Should we?

I can certainly see the attraction. On the surface there’s an almost night & day difference between the two parties on our issues. I think voting for Democrats over Republicans will almost certainly yield a short-term benefit. I don’t think we would have seen 261 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year were Democrats in the majority in these state legislatures.

The problem is that any benefit gained will be fleeting. In the long run, linking our struggle for LGBTQ+ rights to the Democratic Party will drag us down in bureaucracy, accommodation and compromise. It’s also worth recalling all the things done by Democrats against LGBTQ+ people that I detailed in my ‘History of Hate’ above. The Democratic Party only really “supports” us when compelled by public pressure.

To this point, some of the Democrat’s greatest “accomplishments” weren’t gifts at all from the goodness of their heart — they were victories we wrestled from them after they resisted us as long as they could. The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, only happened because the Democrats were driven to it by the Civil Rights Movement and the massive 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. That’s where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I have a dream!” speech.

The Civil Rights Movement and the 1963 march put Democrats on the spot. If the Democrats really supported civil rights and voting rights, why didn’t they act sooner?

Likewise, the early progress of Gay Liberation didn’t come from friendly Democrats. We’d still be in that Dark Age I described at the beginning if we’d sat all this time nursing our drinks at the Stonewall, waiting for the Democrats.

We didn’t. We rioted — sometimes that’s what it takes — and then we took to the streets in mass peaceful demonstrations. Like the massive anti-Vietnam War marches, eventually we couldn’t be ignored.

We are all one — and if we don’t know it, we will learn it the hard way.

– Bayard Rustin

We stood together as one — gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans — in protest marches and Pride marches. We came out of our closets publicly and demanded our humanity.

We started with marches like this in 1970 after Stonewall, the 1st Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade.

Image by Kay Tobin, © The New York Public Library. Used with permission.

On June 24, 1979, marched near the Empire State Building in New York City.

On October 14, 1979, we assembled in Washington DC for the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

And we marched many more times.

The forces against us are trying to turn back the clock. It’s part of the same attack we see against women with Roe v. Wade on the chopping block. Women and transgender people are both facing threats to their right to control their bodies. After Roe we can anticipate attacks against contraception, same-sex marriage and interracial marriage. After that…?

So what do we do? Organize!

To start, the LGBTQ+ community must remain united as one — never allowing the haters to split us apart, to divide us and conquer. Next we must unite with our natural allies: workers, women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asian, Jews, Muslims and others. The 1978 victory in California against John Briggs and Proposition 6 shows the immense power when allies unite to support each other. Key to such power is remaining independent of the two parties, lest we find ourselves compromised by adjustment and adaptation to their agendas.

We mustn’t be pushed back into our past oppression. We don’t have to be. We can apply the lessons we’ve learned over the years. We can use these lessons to come out of this victorious and stronger.

Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up, and start to fight.

-Harvey Milk

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein


ADDENDUM

Breaking News…

Friday, June 24, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down Roe v. Wade, stripping women of the Constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years. In 1973 the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” protecting a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion (though subject to medical criteria concerning viability of the fetus).

The Court today reversed itself, delivering a devastating blow to women’s rights. This is the first time in memory, perhaps ever, that the Supreme Court has stripped away an established Constitutional right. The fact that SCOTUS has decided to go down this path opens a Pandora’s Box of frightening potential. Justice Clarence Thomas stated loud and clear in his Concurring Opinion that the Court now needs to take down other Constitutional rights.

He wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.” He listed by name the cases that have granted contraceptive rights, marriage equality and even the basic legality of same-sex relationships between consenting adults in private. The latter two cases were landmark victories I cover above.

Klieg lights should be aimed at the glaring omission in Justice Thomas’ list. He specifically excluded Loving v. Virginia. This case, also based on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, legalized interracial marriage. Reversing this particular “substantive due process precedent” would invalidate Thomas’ own marriage which I’m sure he would find a bit inconvenient. So of course this particular precedent must remain in place. This duplicity exposes Thomas’ twisted thinking and utter moral bankruptcy where his rights matter, but other’s don’t.

SCOTUS today has announced threatening new goals in the escalating attack against LGBTQ+ people that I’ve described here. This is an unfolding story. I will update this Addendum as developments warrant.


RELATED READING ON THIS BLOG

These selected posts may be of interest, or click here for all posts on this blog related to LGBTQ+ issues.

To Be Transgender is to Be Human

Actor Elliot Page has come out as a trans man and shares his journey.


Coming Out in the 50s thru 80s

Interviews of earlier generations by high school and college students.


The 50th Anniversary of Stonewall

Videos looking at the 1969 Stonewall Riots including first-hand participant accounts.


The Riot Before Stonewall

When the trans community rioted in San Francisco in August 1966.


The ‘I Resolve Movement’: A Kinder, Gentler Oppression?

Smiles and effusive positivity mask wolves in sheep’s clothing.


Romans 1 Revisited

Southern Baptist Pastor Danny Cortez takes a fresh look at homosexuality.


30 Years of Pride

In 1989, Cleveland’s LGBTQ+ community launched the first annual Pride celebration.


Title image by Kay Tobin, © The New York Public Library. Used with permission.
Proposition 6 buttons by National Museum of American History. (License)
Image of Harvey Milk by Daniel Nicoletta. (License)
Image of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is Public Domain.
Image of Marsha P. Johnson by Janine and Jim Eden. (License)
Image of the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs is Public Domain.
I’m claiming Fair Use of the 1-minute clip of Detective John Sorenson from the documentary Stonewall Uprising.



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