Capitol Beat Opinion

The War on LGBT Rights Just Got Worse — Much Worse

Linda Pentz
Written by Linda Pentz

In the first four months of 2016, 200 anti-LGBT bills were introduced in 34 states, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  Things were only getting started. War has now been officially declared.

Just this past week, Republicans in Congress took their persecution of the LGBT community to new heights — or should we say lows — when they voted down their own energy and water bill in order to defeat an LGBT rights amendment embedded within it.

The amendment had been introduced by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) to restore the rights of LGBT employees by barring the government from paying federal contractors that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The House passed it 223-195 with the support of 43 Republicans.

It was the second attempt by Maloney, who is openly gay, to get the legislation into a bill after some 11th hour shenanigans by Republican House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) caused a surprise defeat a week earlier.

Also passed — before the energy and water bill was itself defeated — was an amendment introduced by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) that would exempt religious groups from the Obama administration’s directives to federal contractors and public schools.

Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) denounced the Byrne amendment as a “vile crusade against LGBT Americans” and “a complete disgrace.”

Doubtless this is not the end of the story and not just for the LGBT community.  There is an all-out assault on civil rights going on in this country.  Just look what’s happening on abortion.

The battle over LGBT rights in Congress is reflective of what is happening in the states as well.  A recent example that highlights just how obsessive things have become took place in Tennessee, where the legislature just stripped the University of Tennessee’s diversity office of its funding.  Over grammar.

The diversity office had suggested using gender neutral pronouns for its transgender students. This was apparently serious enough to warrant removing $446,000 in state funding.  Yes, things are that insane.

The lawsuits are flying too.  After North Carolina passed its discriminatory “bathroom” law, forcing people to use the restroom of their birth gender, Obama’s Department of Justice sued the state.  And the state sued right back.

Then, when Obama, like a righteous Jason, unleashed his hugely important transgender rights directive to schools on Friday, May 13, the backlash was inevitable.

Eleven states so far have fired back with law suits of their own, accusing the White House of  “a massive social experiment,” designed to put children in harm’s way and demanding the directive be overturned.

So bent are they on their persecution of the LGBT community, they are deaf and blind to the illogicality of their arguments that thousands of photos posted by beefy and tattooed transgender men have failed to silence.

Instead, the mere whiff of trans rights prompts predictions of Armageddon — “the end of public education,” proclaimed Republican Texas talk show goon turned  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, if not the end of the world.  As White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, wryly observed, “I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office.”

That warning should not go unheeded as we face the far more dangerous prospect of electing a right-wing television host to the highest national office.  At that point, civil rights may no longer be a contentious issue.  They will have gone up in flames.