Any hope that the time had arrived when America would symbolically raise the flag of human rights by legislating full federal equality for LGBT Americans ended with a gut-wrenching punch when Donald Trump won the presidential election.
A Hillary Clinton presidency had potential to deliver, among other advances for LGBT rights, the passage of the Equality Act, a bill which proposed a much-needed amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The amendment would have provided wide-reaching protections against discrimination in the workplace, housing, public education, public accommodations, federal funding, credit and the jury system on the basis of gender identity, sex and sexual orientation.
America would have witnessed a social emancipation. No longer relegated to being second-class citizens, an estimated 14 million LGBT Americans finally would have been given equality under the law to live, love, get married, have families and pursue the American Dream.
While optimism is a wonderful quality, imagining any kind of rainbow under a Trump administration is tough to do. The sobering, gun-in-your-face reality is that big challenges to the rights of every LGBT American lie ahead in 2017.
Not only do Trump’s appointments represent the singularly most vehemently anti-LGBT administration in history, but salivating at the sidelines with blood in their eyes are the Christian fundamentalists who lifted Trump to victory and will waste no time collecting payback on promises he undoubtedly made to them during the campaign.
For these Christian fundamentalists, including LGBT hate groups (let’s call them what they really are) like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, a priority in ‘Making America Great Again,’ is the reversal of the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015 ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
Rather than take the much more difficult route of trying to reverse the Supreme Court ruling, the Republicans have hatched a plot, it appears. It is the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), and its intention is to torpedo not only marriage equality but all LGBT advances under the Obama administration.
Republican Senators Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) confirmed during an interview with BuzzFeed last month it was their intention to reintroduce FADA, a bill which paves the way for wide-scale discrimination against LGBT Americans under the guise of “religious freedom.”
Essentially, FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking any action against people, including federal employees like marriage license clerks, that openly discriminate “on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
If passed, FADA would translate into hunting season for wide-scale discrimination in America, the prey being not only the queers, faggots and sissies, but blacks, Mexicans, Muslims and Jews.
This blatantly discriminatory piece of potential legislation wasn’t successful when it was first presented in the House three years ago. But in the current Republican-controlled House and in the current anti-LGBT political climate…
Among the challenges ahead for LGBT Americans in coming months is an almost certain increase in random acts of intolerance, hate, discrimination and violence. We are seeing reports of these acts on a frequent basis now accompanied by the chorus, “Trump will Make America Great Again.”
Intentionally or not, there is no question that Trump fanned the long-simmering flames of racism and intolerance in rural America against others whose differences include religious beliefs, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is the result.
The thing is, time has not stood still.
Today, LGBT Americans are out of the closet and living proudly more than ever. They are getting married in record numbers and many are starting families and raising abundantly-loved, happy children. They are contributing positively to society and serving their communities.
And they are going back in the closet, no matter what the Christian fundamentalists want.
Watchdog organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, National LGBTQ Task Force, and Equality Florida had better be ready. We are going to need them.