LTE: Stand Against Discrimination
A leaked copy of a Trump Executive Order targeting the LGBTQ community includes language ensuring continued tax-exempt status for religious organizations if they speak out on beliefs opposing gay marriage, extramarital sex, abortion rights and rights for transgender individuals. Additionally, it would expand the definition of a religious organization to include “closely held for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious.” One clear example of such a corporation is Hobby Lobby. Equality advocacy groups are saying the Order would allow for open and protected discrimination of members of the LGBTQ community.
We have seen a fair share of political assaults on our community from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
In April of 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, banning homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors. The Order listed homosexuals as security risks, along with alcoholics and neurotics.
President Clinton then gave us Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s. And of course, our livelihoods, families, and fundamental rights as taxpaying citizens have been put up for debate at various levels of government and the judicial system, during different times in American history. We reached turning points in the movement with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, and the march on Washington DC in 1979. In the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, the Supreme Court decriminalized a consensual physical relationship between two people of the same sex. And in 2013, in United States v Windsor, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional under the Due Process clause of the 5th amendment.
We have made so much progress as a citizen movement, yet here we are again, waiting to see in which ways elected officials will use us for political maneuvering; those who will talk about morality while simultaneously introducing and supporting policies that put people’s lives and families at risk, because of their personal religious beliefs.
Jenny Pizer, senior counsel and law and policy director for Lambda Legal summed it up quite nicely when she told The Nation, “ being denied the ability to discriminate against others is not discrimination against you.”
We don’t know exactly what is coming our way, but if it’s legislation that includes anything like the proposed language we’ve seen, the consequences could be dire.
So what do we do before and what do we do after?
Rules are being ignored and changed, and if the first two weeks of this administration is any indication, we should prepare for anything to happen to anyone.
Many of us are in a position to be able to stand up when others are not, and we shouldn’t wait to speak up. There are generations of our LGBTQ family who are still figuring out how to love themselves in a world where the President of the United States is now quick to call any “other” a threat, and we need to give them a voice.
Today, we can call our representatives to let them know we are watching. Today we can organize, write an email, or postcard, or letter. We can show up to town halls to ask the tough questions ourselves, and though the GOP is going to do everything they can to make it harder, we sure as hell can, and must, get out and vote in every election possible, and maybe even run in a few ourselves.
This is what resistance looks like.