As right-wing anti-LGBT rhetoric gets further ‘out there,’ we must step up to counter it
I guess it wasn’t enough that the right-wing crazies tried to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, now they have come up with the argument that giving LGBT people equal rights is an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Funny, I never remember asking anyone to change their religion or to stop speaking, no matter how crazy they are.
I hold freedom of speech very near and dear to my heart. In fact it is one of my core values.
And religious freedom? Well you have the right to preach and believe anything you want, until you begin advocating violence against other citizens.
That is where the whole issue of LGBT rights breaks down for the far right. If they are not “free” to advocate outright physical assaults on LGBT Americans, they somehow feel it is impinging on their freedom.
Does this sound a lot like the anti-abortion crowd who advocate murdering doctors and blowing up clinics? Though they would be the first to deny it, they are cut from the same cloth.
Funny how these same folks are among the first to point fingers at all Muslims and cry “Terrorists!” In fact our friend from north of the border, Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma, has actually said that LGBT people are more dangerous than terrorists.
I really see all this as another attempt to re-frame the issue of LGBT rights by the right wing. They know that opinions in America are changing, and as a recent poll showed, even here in Texas an overwhelming majority of registered voters support expanded civil rights for LGBT Texans.
It is a rising tide and it scares them, and so they crank up the rhetoric.
Bryan Fischer, a mouthpiece of the American Family Association drove the point home with this gem delivered at the recent AFA-sponsored Values Voters Summit, attended by all of the main Republican presidential candidates:
“I believe we need a president who understands that just as Islam represents the greatest long-range threat to our liberty, so the homosexual agenda represents the greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the First Amendment. It’s a particular threat to religious liberty… .”
Now, if you have trouble understanding this strange equation, “LGBT rights = no religious liberty,” then let me explain the twisted logic.
The far right believes:
• We are a Christian nation, but only the fundamentalist, fire-breathing born-again variety of Christian.
• “Free speech” means “the right to attack, abuse and in general deny rights to anyone other than predominately white Christian Americans.” (See above for definition of “Christian.”)
• Limiting the ability to discriminate against LGBT people, particularly in areas that involve legal representation and equal rights, is a limit on free speech.
• Granting LGBT people equal legal rights “will end Western Civilization.” (That is a quote from Liberty Council’s Mat Staver.)
And so with this kind of logic it’s easy to see how we LGBT folks are such dangerous threats.
Now, take it a few steps further — which Bryan Fischer is more than willing to do — and go after the recent “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. Fischer’s vivid imagination comes up with this whopper:
“And so, I’m predicting that things are about to get very ugly in the United States military for people of faith. We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, are going to become victims of systematic hate crimes. This is going to be a pogrom; this is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in the military, perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.”
Now we have indeed reached the level of “industrial-strength crazy,” and it’s time we take a stand against it.
First of all, the idea that the American Family Association (a recognized hate group) can actually somehow have a lock on what it means to be “people of faith” is beyond laughable. It’s time liberal, progressive Christians came out of the closet and began reclaiming the word “Christian,” before it is too late.
Secondly, the idea that all the major candidates for the GOP presidential race showed up at an event staged by a hate group should put to bed forever the idea that the Republican Party is a big tent, unless that tent is for a fundamentalist revival.
Third, it’s time we realized that not only are these folks nutty, they are dangerous, and though it is easy to laugh at them, we need to take them seriously.
To do otherwise is just plain crazy.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.