The Fight Is Never Over

When I first began this blog, one of the issues I frequently addressed was gay rights. LGBTQ folks still faced formidable barriers to equality; same-sex marriage was a pipe dream, with DOMA at the federal level and so-called “mini-DOMAs” in many states.  Activists were fighting “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” and working to include protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in state civil rights statutes.

In Indiana, civil rights organizations and major businesses managed to defeat an effort to place a ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution, but we still lack those “four little words”–sexual identity and gender identity–in our civil rights law.  Unless you live in an Indiana city with an inclusive human rights ordinance, it is still perfectly legal here to fire someone for being gay. We also remain one of only five states without an inclusive hate crimes law.

Even in states like Indiana, though, LGBTQ folks have benefitted from the truly dramatic shift in public opinion that has occurred over the past couple of decades. As homophobia ebbed–it certainly hasn’t disappeared, but it has greatly diminished–this blog focused on other issues.

Attacks on LGBTQ citizens may have diminished, but as young folks like to say, “haters gotta hate.” As an article in the Guardian recently illustrated, there is plenty of room for homophobia among the numerous bigotries exhibited by our accidental President and those who support him.

The Trump administration has attacked LGBT rights in healthcare, employment, housing, education, commerce, the military, prisons and sports.

These efforts, it turns out, were just the beginning.

The president’s anti-LGBT agenda could soon gain significant momentum at the US Supreme Court, where Trump’s Department of Justice (DoJ) is pushing to make it legal to fire people for being gay or transgender. The move would fundamentally reverse civil rights for millions of people, LGBT leaders say, and raises fears that LGBT people may lose the minimal protections and resources they have won in past years.

“This is a critical point in history,” said Alesdair Ittelson, the law and policy director at interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth. “The outcome of this case is going to have a tremendous impact on everyone.”

During the Obama administration, the LGBTQ community won significant victories:  repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” new protections under the Affordable Care Act, an anti-discrimination executive order and expanded recognition of trans rights, among other things. Those victories are now under attack.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has sought to reverse healthcare protections for trans people, moved to ban trans people from serving in the military, eliminated rules protecting trans students and pushed to allow businesses to turn away gay and trans customers if they seek a religious exemption.

Last month, the Trump justice department made its most aggressive anti-gay legal argument to date, urging the supreme court to rule that gay employees are not protected under a longstanding act that prohibits “sex discrimination”. The DoJ filed briefs related to three supreme court cases to be heard together on 8 October – two involving gay men fired from their jobs, and a third involving a woman terminated by her employer after she came out as trans.

The courts have repeatedly held that gay people are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Before Trump, the federal government agreed. But William Barr’s Department of Justice is now arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are excluded under Title VII because “sex” means only whether people are “biologically male or female.”

Before Trump, the Justice Department pursued justice. Before Trump, judicial nominees elevated to the federal bench were vetted for legal competence, not for fidelity to radical “conservative” (actually fundamentalist Christian) ideology.

Before Trump, even our worst Presidents weren’t rabid White Nationalists, Islamophobes, homophobes, anti-Semites and proud and loud racists.

But that was then, and now is now.

26 thoughts on “The Fight Is Never Over

  1. Thank you Sheila for reminding folks of the real threat POTUS 45 represents for LGBTQ Americans. We can not become complacent while hate reigns in our country. Supporting organizations like Lambda Legal or the Human Rights Campaign is one way we can fight back. Silence=Death.

  2. While this may be trump’s administration I believe that he is only following the strong suggestions of his cabinet members that pence helped put in place. I imagine that pence is very pleased with himself for what he has accomplished as VP. He has stayed busy in the background enabling his fellow evangelical fake Christians to force their perverted bigoted demands onto our legal systems, both at the federal and state levels.

    Every time I read about another one of their demands to remove civil rights from law abiding tax paying citizens, my first thought is if the people they choose to discriminate against can’t have the same rights that the rest of us have, then the citizens without full civil rights should not have to pay any taxes at all. Why should they be forced to financially support a government that refuses to give them the full legal rights and full legal protections that everyone else has?

  3. “Unless you live in an Indiana city with an inclusive human rights ordinance, it is still perfectly legal here to fire someone for being gay. We also remain one of only five states without an inclusive hate crimes law.”

    The above statements takes me back to Pence’s RFRA, which had to be withdrawn after enacted and rewritten and then enacted a 2nd time by Indiana Legislature; and Indianapolis Republican Mayor Greg Ballard suddenly realized this city had no human rights ordinance. That fact went national and a number of organizations who held annual meetings and conferences here threatened to move elsewhere and Ballard realized tourism would be heavily effected so he quickly got a local human rights ordinance passed. There are only 11 areas in and around big cities in Indiana with this protective ordinance. Pence promised his evangelical supporters and warned the rest of us that he would take his RFRA to the federal level as Vice President.

  4. Understanding science requires effort and study. Religion asks nothing of people except belief. If religion is accorded the same or more validity than science an army of bigots is easy to create.

  5. Nancy, the people of D.C. would agree with you. Taxation without representation is the motto on their license plates.

  6. “Before Trump, even our worst Presidents weren’t rabid White Nationalists, Islamophobes, homophobes, anti-Semites and proud and loud racists.

    But that was then, and now is now.”

    You’re absolutely right. America’s democratic past is quickly becoming irrelevant. There’s been a FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE, not a technical one with the election of Donald Trump. As Walter Cronkite exclaimed many years ago, Evangelical Christianity is mostly a MASK for white supremacy [or FASCISM].

    If you want to use history as a HELPFUL guide, at this late moment, I would strongly advise looking at the Apartheid Movement in South Africa, as well as, the outcome of the American CIVIL WAR in the 1860’s, not present-day democratic Sweden, nor the Nazi Movement, as it was domestically too mild.

    See “The Apartheid State in Crisis: Political Transformation in South Africa 1975-1990” by Robert M. Price (Oxford University Press, New York, 1991).

  7. I agree with JoAnn…these attacks against gay rights are the result of Pastor Pence’s efforts. Trump does well with racist rhetoric but not so much religious speak. He doesn’t know the bible but he does know how to spread it thick for his racist fan base.

    William Barr is knee-deep in the impeachment inquiry for using his office as the personal protector of Trump vs. serving the interests of the people.

    Fascism is an incredible display of power to watch from the sidelines. One thing you can count on is those in power abusing their power because the laws just don’t apply. Once you’ve exceeded the laws of the land, you’re soaked in freedom of non-restraint. It’s misfeasance and malfeasance rolled into one.

    Sadly, both political parties have been abusing their powers to obtain the ultimate weapon — abuse of power.

    As long as the Oligarchs get what they want, they are fine with how it is handled. Sadly, those in gray areas become targets for political reasons. Notice how all the targets of the bullies are among the commoners? Divide and conquer. Use of the term, “Civil War.”

    The Oligarchs are off-limits to the bullies and the media — ‘only socialists and communists attack our Oligarchs.’ Fair game is the commoners.

    It’s called class-warfare but the media refuses to go there because the USA is classless. Lol

  8. One of the advantages of the impeachment threat that the House has mounted is that it keeps Trump and co fully occupied lying about their actions being investigated so they don’t have time for anything like running the country. Moscow Mitch certainly is not capable of an agenda without his savior so Congress is gridlocked into doing nothing. That should stem the backward slide that we were contributing to the downfall of English speaking nations.

  9. Another possible outcome of the impeachment investigation is that it increases the odds that the GOP will decide that their following Agent Orange has become too expensive and throwing him under the bus and joining the impeachment movement allows them to wipe the slate and start over.

    Are they collectively that smart?

  10. Why don’t Hoosiers who disagree with diverting tax money from public education to support religious schools and legislating discrimination band together, lawyer up and refuse to pay taxes until the legislature starts serving their interests?

  11. WISHFUL THINKING is not a rational substitute for RESISTANCE. That was the big mistake by the German Jews in the 30s. It won’t be just the Jews, this time around.

    See “The Destruction of the European Jews” by Raul Hilberg (Holmes & Meier Publishing, New York, 1985).

  12. Sure, they’re going after the LGBTQ community! And they are using religion and religious beliefs to do it. But, it’s not that they really believe but there is a religious reason for being this discriminatory in a secularist society, it’s a wedge issue. By wedge, I mean that once they drive the wedge into the heart of civil rights for that particular community, they can drive the wedge deeper into all civil rights! There will be a complete rollback for any and all civil rights and civil protections. All of the blood that has been spilled trying to acquire some semblance of equality will be for naught. And then finally those religionists who have ridden the political horse to try and accomplish their goals, will be the last on the list to be attacked
    and dismantled as their usefulness is no longer needed.

  13. From Media Matters:

    On Sunday, “Pastor” Robert Jeffress went onto Fox News and preached a sermon of mockery, division, partisanship and violence. Shame on him.

    Ignoring all of Trump’s sins which are in public in black and white for all to see, Jeffress instead mocked Speaker Pelosi’s call to be somber and prayerful as they proceed with the impeachment of Dear Leader.

    “I think it’s hard to take Nancy Pelosi’s call to prayer seriously,” he told his Fox friends. “I mean it reminds me of a pyromaniac with a match in hand about to set fire to a building saying, ‘Please pray with me that the damage I’m about to cause isn’t too severe.’ I mean if you’re really sincere about that prayer, then put down the dang match.”

    “[I]mpeachment is the only tool they have to get rid of Donald Trump and the Democrats don’t care if they burn down and destroy this nation in the process,” he proclaimed without even a tinge of irony.

    I would argue that what is happening is life-saving surgery with a chance for failure, but then again, I’m not the pastor of a megachurch in Texas that preaches Trump and guns to a congregation.

    What came next should never be uttered by anyone, much less someone who calls himself a pastor. It’s a call to arms and a deeply dangerous one.

    After telling everyone that evangelicals were furious at the possibility that their votes for a craven sociopath might be negated, Jeffress had a prediction: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal.”

    What an irresponsible statement. And guess who picked right up on it, amplifying and modifying it for the benefit of his cult and bot army? Yep.

    Donald Trump

    [Almost 40 years ago, approximately 40% of the Southern Baptist Convention broke away from the likes of Pastor Jeffries. They saw the writing on the wall, but their influence, with the likes of ex-President Jimmy Carter, has had little effect in stemming the tide. MGK]

  14. Pete @ 9:15 am, I would not give the GOP much in the way of credit for doing the smart thing or right thing. The GOP is so badly infected with a sociopath virus, it gains strength within the GOP everyday. What would have been over the top during the Nixon or even Raygun or the Bush eras, is now Standard Operating Procedure for the GOP. No dog whistles or coded wording, just flat out in your face willful ignorance, with no sense of decorum.

    I never was a fan of Barry Goldwater but for either political reasons or a sense of morality – Goldwater told Nixon he had to go. The Democrats back then had 56 Senate seats – not enough for a conviction of Nixon – if all the Republicans would have voted against impeachment conviction. However, Goldwater told Nixon he had to leave.

    Today, the GOP and President Agent Orange are one, with Pastor Pence mindlessly smiling in the back ground. The GOP has no one else that can whip up the GOP base like President Agent Orange.

  15. Marv, > Jeffress was at the opening ceremony of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.

    Jeffress has said the following: “Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell,” Mr. Jeffress said in the interview. “Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.”

    “Judaism — you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way? The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ. They all said Judaism won’t do it. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/world/middleeast/robert-jeffress-embassy-jerusalem-us.html

  16. True, John Sorg, but Republicans both religious and secular don’t seem to understand that as soon as Trump has used them to attain his dictatorial status they, too, are political baggage and while still around for show will be effectively neutered. As to gays and lesbians, if the court holds that it is not unconstitutional to discriminate against them, then we can add that to the list of reforms we will some day hash out in a constitutional convention while, meanwhile, working to limit the effect of such decision much as states and even local jurisdictions have done with Roe.

    I am going to go out on a limb and predict the court’s decision will not be as bad as many of us fear, and that there will be room thereafter for litigation questioning the application of such holding to varying fact situations. Old time Republicans such as Pences and Falwells have a loser in the long or even medium run irrespective of the court’s holding since the young are not responding to their fear mongering regarding socialism, homos etc. Red meat requires an audience.

  17. John,

    “Sure, they’re going after the LGBTQ community! And they are using religion and religious beliefs to do it. But, it’s not that they really believe but there is a religious reason for being this discriminatory in a secularist society, it’s a wedge issue. By wedge, I mean that once they drive the wedge into the heart of civil rights for that particular community, they can drive the wedge deeper into all civil rights! There will be a complete rollback for any and all civil rights and civil protections.”

    You’re absolutely right. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how they have played the anti-Semitism since its serious outbreak in 1980 by the statement from the Reverend Bailey Smith, head of the Southern Baptist Convention, who stated: “God doesn’t deliver the prayers of Jews.”

    This anti-Semitic program eventually mutated into a more violent racism targeted against African-Americans. Donald Trump didn’t create this “horror show.” He is just like a surfer riding the crest of a mounting “political tsunami.” On this point, see my site which has been online since 2011 at http://www.StrategicPower.org.

    [It’s important to remember that there are many more Southern Baptist ministers than Catholic priests in America.]

  18. Monotonous,

    “Marv, > Jeffress was at the opening ceremony of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.”

    Thanks. That’s the other side of the Modus Vivendi or “Black Swan” which we ALL have been forced to deal with SINCE Bailey Smith’s statement, at the beginning of the 80s: Unlimited funds for the support of Israel, led by the Southern Baptist Convention, in EXCHANGE for unchallenged anti-Semitism directed at the American Jewish Community led by, the same, Southern Baptist Convention. What a deal.

    And we continue to wonder why we are ALL : “Up Shit’s Creek without a paddle” when it comes to neutralizing the disastrous, political, machinations of Donald Trump & his cohorts.

  19. I believe It’s Important to point out, that one recent poll, which I believe to be accurate, showed that only 18% of American Jews supported Israel under the administration of Benjamin Netanyahu.

  20. How is it possible to conclude that because of who you are or what your beliefs are you are superior to others in your entitlement to whatever rights your government approves for its most favored members? Since all religions are epistemologically absurd, how does one set of fanciful thoughts about ghosts and angels and holier-than-thou characters place one person’s rank above another’s? Wahabists in Saudi Arabia are as addled as evangelists in America and Pakistanis who feel compelled by their religion to kill a female family member because she has been raped. It may not all be built on ignorance, but every plank of every religious platform is based on the assertion that “this is what I believe because this is what I choose to believe.” How can we attain a higher level of understanding and civilization if that thought pattern is condoned?

    We can’t protect LBGT rights until we end the pattern of beliefs that allows an individual to claim that he knows more about the mind of god than his neighbor.

    Until we disabuse religionists of their untenable worldviews, there will be people who feel morally entitled because they hold a certain set of beliefs that encourage them to feel superior. The year is 2019. It’s time to discard the ancient myths that no longer contribute to any useful ends. Without any help from religion, people will find ways to be kind and compassionate and forgiving and hopeful.

  21. Thank you Gerald and Marv,

    I appreciate the mention of my comment. Sometimes the old brain doesn’t work like it used to, especially if I’m not home and using my phone, it’s hard to make sure what I am saying is coming across like it should.

    That being said, the apostle Paul made this statement in Romans, “He is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh,” and then, he added to his letter, which stated; “What, then, is the superiority of the Jew, or of what is the benefit of the circumcision? A great deal and every way. 1st of all, because they were entrusted with the sacred pronouncements of God.” Then later on in Romans, the apostle Paul stated this; “A man is declared righteous by faith apart from works of law,” then he continued on to say; “Do we, then, abolish law by means of our faith? Never may that happen! On the contrary, we established law.” Then even later on in Romans, the apostle Paul continues with his statement, which he states; “But now we have been discharged from the law,” then he goes on with a question, which reads; “Is the law sin? Never may it become so! Really I could not have come to know sin if it had not been for the law.”

    Now, that does not sound like God would not hear the prayers of Jews. N0! Of course, I like the study of Scripture, and I find it interesting that individuals who claim to be teachers of both faiths, are sorely lacking in knowledge. Or that they are calling out for people to follow them as some sort of disciple.

    The apostle Paul also said, that as far is Jews and non-Jews, “there is not a righteous man, not even one” because all men were born under sin, the original sin, and whether it was the blood of animals at the sacrificial altar, or the blood of Christ through his sacrifice, that sacrifice was necessary because God expressed it to be so.

    And Terry,

    It absolutely is a fact that men manipulate religion for their own personal gain. The Emperor Constantine of Rome, manipulated the teachings of Christ to enlist the help of pagans that he could bring into the church. So, he used,/hijacked, religion for his political purposes. Not unlike what’s happening today, not just in this country, and not just the Christian faith, but most religions and most faiths. I could count on one hand, religions or faiths that put forth a sacred effort towards pure belief and worship. Probably 2 fingers on one hand!

  22. At times when Trump feels politically vulnerable, he tacks to the right to please his base. Here we go again for the umpteenth time.

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