Mark Segal

Bracing for Backlash

Filed By Mark Segal | March 30, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: 2016 election, backlash, gay marriage, GOP 2016, Jeb Bush, marriage equality, Republican Party, same-sex marriage, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Texas

From time to time I turn to my Facebook page to ask followers what subjects they'd like me to touch on in my weekly column. So here goes.

verbal_abuse.jpgMost topics involved speculation on presidential candidates, commentary on the relationship between the LGBT community and Republicans, or an analysis of the state of LGBT civil rights in the United States. So, how do I connect all of these?

Since the wave of marriage equality success across the nation, we have begun to see a backlash. A backlash occurs when a political bloc -- in this case, religious conservatives, a large group of Republicans, and homophobes (some of whom may be part of those first two groups) -- feel threatened by the successes of another political bloc, in this case the LGBT community. This, coupled with the spate of public-opinion polls showing widespread support for the LGBT community against every form of discrimination, has that group very worried that they are becoming dinosaurs.

Every social-economic group fighting for its rights has faced backlash. In our case, the current movement pushing back against us happens to have proposed 85 laws seeking to restrict our rights in 26 states across our nation.

The Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal have done an incredible job of keeping track of recent antigay legislation and alerting the community on the bills' progress. HRC has divided the legislation into four categories: religious refusals, meaning a company or business may refuse to serve LGBT people if they don't like us; promoting conversion therapy, a treatment that seeks to change one's sexuality, largely practiced on youth, that has been condemned by all leading medical and mental-health organizations including the American Psychiatric Association; anti-transgender, where lawmakers are basically looking to throw the book at our transgender brothers and sisters; and finally, canceling out LGBT nondiscrimination, where elected officials are looking to repeal LGBT nondiscrimination laws in cities and jurisdictions that have already adopted them.

Only one state boasts proposed measures in all four categories. Can you guess? Yes, it's Texas.

scott-walker-smug2.jpgOklahoma follows with three; South Carolina, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, South Dakota and Colorado each have two and the rest have seen only one of the four.

What does this have to do with the presidential candidates? Two presumptive presidential candidates are already on record supporting these forms of discrimination. Can you guess which ones?

Ted Cruz has consistently opposed our community's rights and, at a campaign stop in Georgia just last week, Jeb Bush stated his support for religious discrimination against LGBT people. Scott Walker, who is quickly becoming the Romney of this race, as usual has not clearly stated his position.

If Bush, who is seen as the "moderate" of all these candidates, supports anti-LGBT legislation, it is almost impossible for the rest of the Republican field to be elsewhere.

So while we are waiting for that U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality this summer, maybe -- just maybe -- we should also prepare for a harsher backlash if the court rules our way.

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