Brynn Tannehill

Six Reasons for Pessimism in the LGBT Movement

Filed By Brynn Tannehill | January 14, 2015 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: conservatives, extremism, GOP, GOP 2015, legislative bullying, pessimism, red states, Republican Party

Recently, an article was written for The Advocate titled "7 Reasons To Be Hopeful in 2015." I read it in disbelief -- is this person living in the same country as I am?

Let's face it, things are going to be rough for a while, and here's why.

1.) Republicans are in charge.

Take a look at this map. The red states are where Republicans control both the state legislature and the governor's office, the blue states are where Democrats control both.

party-control-full.jpg

Notice something? Republican-controlled states outnumber Democratic-controlled ones, 24-6. That's half the country where anti-LGBT agendas get to run wild for the next couple of years.

2.) The states controlled by Democrats can't do much more on LGBT issues.

Someone might look at the map above and say: "Well, I'm sure there's a lot we can get done in the blue states." The problem is, those blue states have already done almost everything that can be done legislatively.

Marriage:

marriage-map-tannehill.png

Employment discrimination protections:

employment-protections-tannehill-2015.png

Housing discrimination protections:

housing-discrimination-tannehill.PNG

Bullying protections:

bullying-map-tannehill.png

Or hate crimes:

hate-crimes-map-tannehill.png

Most of the things that can be done in these states are items very specific to the transgender community, such as removing surgical requirements for birth certificates or banning exclusions in health insurance targeting transgender people.

Which brings us to the next reason for a dismal forecast...

3.) The marriage gravy-train is almost over, and raising interest and money for transgender issues is very difficult.

After the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" there were three major organizations that had missions specific to that battle: OutServe, Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund (SLDN), and Servicemembers United. Servicemembers United declared victory and folded immediately after repeal. OutServe merged with SLDN, then promptly went bankrupt nine months later because they couldn't raise enough money to work on open transgender military service.

The LGBT movement is faced with a similar crisis today. Marriage equality was a cash cow for many organizations. Now that it is winding down, the money is drying up, momentum is dwindling, and the only issues that look moveable are transgender issues in blue states.

Unfortunately, there is very little enthusiasm among LGB people in general to work on transgender-specific issues, according to polling in 2013. The only broadly workable issue that cross-cuts between LGB and T in these five blue states is banning "reparative therapy," which has already been done in California already anyway.

4.) Conservatives have no shortage of (horrible) options.

There's almost no end to the number of ways conservatives can make life in states they control nearly impossible for LGB -- and particularly transgender -- people.

License-to-discriminate laws, papers-to-pee bills, laws barring state employees from issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples, laws banning transgender people from getting accurate birth certificates, repealing state protections for transgender people by executive order, overruling all local protections for LGBT people, making "reparative therapy" the only type available -- these are all laws Republicans have passed (or tried to pass) in the past few years to ensure that their states are as unlivable as possible for queer people.

If their goal is for LGBT people to flee their states, then they're succeeding. Which brings me to point #5...

5.) The livability gap between red and blue states will continue to widen.

Dayton PFLAG is one of the largest and most vibrant in the state of Ohio. I'm on the board there. And at the age of 40, I'm also the youngest board member there by almost a decade.

While LGBT folks in deep-blue areas are moving on to genderqueer acceptance and gender fluidity policies in schools, LGBT people in red states are fighting just to prevent legally-enforced second-class citizen status, even if you fit perfectly within the gender binary.

As a result, queer people with the option of getting the hell out (usually younger people) are doing just that at the earliest opportunity. The map below shows LGBT population as a percentage by state.

lgbt-by-state-gallup-feb13.jpg

This map looks a lot like this map of the Williams Institute's Social and Political Climate Index, which measures how habitable each state is for LGBT people:

williams-institute-lgbt-habitability-index.PNG

A recent report from the Williams Institute reinforces this, finding that LGBT people suffer far higher economic and health disparities in the regions with worse overall climates, which strongly incentivizes them to get out of that state. As a result, there are even less LGBT people remaining to push for change.

6.) Republican voters couldn't care less about LGBT issues.

This past fall, Colorado voters overwhelmingly elected Gordon Klingenschmitt to the state's House of Representatives. Representative Klingenschmitt is, by every verifiable account, a religiously-motivated nutjob, liar, and serial filer of nuisance lawsuits -- and he's unashamedly homophobic and transphobic.

He hates. He does it loudly, publicly, and in ways that make it clear he's not playing with a full deck. From a previous blog post:

Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, a radical anti-gay Religious Right activist who brags of having once tried to rid of woman of the "foul spirit of lesbianism" through an exorcism and who openly proclaims that "American law needs to reflect God's law" and that our foreign policy must be based on the Bible, won election to the Colorado House of Representatives last night.

Klingenschmitt, who wrote a book about how President Obama is possessed by demons and once performed an exorcism of Obama, ran an utterly embarrassing campaign yet nonetheless managed to defeat his Democratic opponent by nearly 40 points...

Klingenschmitt is a viciously anti-gay theocrat who believes that gay people "want your soul" and may sexually abuse their own children, which is why he says they should face government discrimination since only people who are going to heaven are entitled to equal treatment by the government.

Klingenschmitt has declared that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy should never have been repealed since gay soldiers cannot serve effectively in combat because they are constantly "taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels." He also proclaims that those who are not welcome in the church should not be entitled to use public restrooms.

Klingenschmitt thinks that "Obamacare causes cancer," that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to "defend themselves against left wing crazies," that ISIS is a sign of the End Times, and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to "molest and visually rape your children."

This dossier of anti-LGBT craziness wasn't enough to keep people from voting for him. It illustrates that Americans couldn't care less if a politician would, in the words of Bayard Rustin, "castrate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us."

As long as these candidates promise to lower taxes and repealing Obamacare, centrist voters will keep electing them, and never punish them for passing anti-LGBT legislation.

And that's why we're screwed.

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