Saturday, May 14, 2016

Looking over that gate

Yesterday, I talked about the continuing threat from the radical right professional anti-gay industry, and how they’re not sleeping, but merely taking a different route to their goal: Repealing all legal protections for LGBT people and our families. Today, I thought I’d share some specific ways they’re doing that.

Far right Christians have no shortage of viciously anti-gay preachers to spread lies and disinformation about LGBT people, but what they lacked for several years was a clear spokesperson. With the death of Jerry Falwell, the steady decline of the very elderly Pat Robertson, and the political defeats of religious extremists like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and others, the radical right has lacked a clear leader to sell its religious-political message.

Frank Graham, son of the famous evangelist, has been working very hard to position himself as the leading proponent of far right religious bigotry against LGBT people. Over the past couple years, offensive nonsense has spewed from his mouth like a pea soup geyser, and just this week, we got yet another example.

This week, Frank was on the podcast of one of Fox News’ leading crackpot pundits. According to Right Wing Watch, after Frank complained that “President Obama sold himself completely to the gay and lesbian community,”
Graham told Starnes that Obama is pushing “dangerous” nondiscrimination measures that will allow “sexually perverted people to take advantage of women,” and now states like North Carolina are facing pressure from “a very wicked agenda within the Obama administration.”
Frank was reinforcing the radical right’s talking point that it’s the LGBT community that’s demanding something new, something to be feared and loathed and resisted. This rhetoric is actually designed to promote fear and loathing of LGBT people generally.

We can see the intent behind Frank’s chosen rhetoric when he said his solution is for radical right “Christians” to take over school boards “within the next four to six years.” He said it was necessary because, “so many school districts now are controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians, and I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.” He’s attempting to demonise LGBT people to portray them as less than human.

Meanwhile, the professional anti-LGBT activists are hard at work, too. The group responsible for tyring to portray “Christian” businesses from around the country as “victims” of LGBT people is now working to pre-emptively sue local governments to overturn human rights protections for LGBT people.

Joe Jervis reported on his Joe.My.God blog that two self-proclaimed Christian women who have a business providing hand lettered invitations for various events are suing to overturn Phoenix’s public accommodation law just in case any of those wicked, evil gays and lesbians ever ask them to do an invitation for their wicked, evil gay wedding—even though no one ever has.

Joe’s post includes two video clips, the first from the professional anti-LGBT activist group that is shown soliciting businesses around the USA to hire them to sue to overturn their local human rights laws, too. The second clip is of the people suing in Phoenix, and Joe is suspicious:
The second clip, rather suspiciously, was posted last week to the just-created YouTube channel for [the litigious business]. It’s the only clip there, it’s unlisted, and comments are closed.

The company also appears to have no physical address and their social media presence goes back only a few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if [the litigious business] was invented specifically to overturn Phoenix’s ordinance. [the name of the business is in the original post, but I’ve removed it for this post].
Regardless of whether Joe’s suspicions are correct or not, this is nevertheless a new tactic in the radical right’s war on LGBT people. As with the anti-trans “bathroom bills”, they’ll win in some places, lose in others, but the industry has the unlimited cash—and patience—to mount a years-long campaign to take away the human and civil rights of LGBT people. This strategy also doesn’t risk boycotts of a state or city because elected politicians aren’t the ones taking away the civil and human rights of LGBT people. There’s kind of an evil brilliance to this strategy.

The anti-LGBT industry’s current multi-pronged war against LGBT people is a variation of what they did during the early years of the battle over marriage equality. Back then, they mounted all sorts of anti-LGBT referenda and ran campaigns for them based on lies, smears, and defamation of LGBT people—and they won over and over again. Part of the reason the radical right won was that LGBT people didn’t have the money or resources to fight back all over the country, a fact the radicals knew and exploited. They’re doing it again.

Now, they’re exploiting fear of a “man in a dress in a women’s public toilet” to pass anti-trans “bathroom bills”, while also continuing to push laws to specifically legalise anti-LGBT discrimination (often in places were it’s already legal) to establish in law that LGBT people are less than equal citizens.

Taken together, these strategies, along with the often viciously anti-gay rhetoric of their religious leaders, is intended to lead to the death of LGBT equality by a thousand cuts: They’ll keep pushing laws and lawsuits to get their way, knowing that the LGBT community cannot possibly hope to compete financially, leaving them largely free to demonise LGBT people so that when they succeed in taking away the rights of LGBT people, it’ll stick because most people will believe we “deserve” it for having “pushed too hard”, and for stepping out of our place.

That is their plan, but their success is by no means certain. The first step in fighting back is simply being aware of what they’re up to. The next step is actually stopping them. That will be the hardest to do—but it IS possible.

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