By Anthony T. Eaton

According to the ACLU, as of January, over 120 bills restricting LGBTQ rights have been introduced nationwide in 2023 so far. In 2022 the ACLU tracked 278 bills targeting our community.

Think about that for a minute. If both years’ numbers represent individual bills and there is no overlap, that is almost 400 bills aimed at taking away our rights and relegating us to second-class citizens. What is worse is that the strategy is working.

Not long ago, there was concern that the previous administration would undo marriage equality, and many of our community said that could never happen, but they are wrong. It may not yet be a blatant attack on our hard-fought and earned the right to marry, but they are slowly chipping away wherever they can. Simply put, legislators around the country are trying to weaken civil rights laws and make us and those that support us, criminals. Where is the outrage?

Iowa legislators propose a ban on same-sex marriage

The Legislature is also considering a bill that would permit residents to deny recognition of same-sex marriages on religious grounds.

Religious freedom is being used to discriminate against and deny us equal access, implying that making a cake, providing housing, healthcare, or any service somehow violates the right to worship freely.

The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It says nothing about the right to discriminate or hate based on religious observance.

Where is the outrage that our elected officials are rewriting the Constitution to deny rights rather than guarantee them?

Mississippi governor signs bill banning transgender health care for minors

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves invited Matt Walsh, a commentator for the right-wing news outlet Daily Wire, to speak at the bill signing.

They are killing us by systematically denying our access to care, denying parents the right to decide what is best for their child, and criminalizing healthcare. Despite The World Professional Association for Transgender Health guidelines of Standards of Care and the endorsement of gender-affirming care by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics and their opposition to efforts restricting access, politicians continue to deny science.

This year, 72 bills have been introduced in 21 states that would restrict or forbid gender-affirming care for trans youth. Those states include IA, SD, ND, IN, WY, WV, and MT. Although these are Republican-controlled states, even in Democrat-controlled states or those with Democratic Governors, bills have been introduced, including NJ, KY, and MN.

Consider that together the LGBTQ community, social work profession, and general medical community worked to create the healthcare equity model we have today as a result of HIV/AIDS, not politicians. It was the result of our collective outrage over the blatant discrimination and lack of even primary care that led to the rights we have today.

Where is the outrage that not only are legislators making healthcare decisions, that they are legalizing a form of medical discrimination?

Florida bill would target diversity studies at state universities

A new bill introduced in the Florida Legislature would build on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to restrict teaching about race and gender in Florida’s public universities.

Our very history and that of our other minority brothers and sisters are not only being rewritten but erased. From the banning of teaching about the 1619 Project to laws against teaching LGBTQ history or anything to do with non-heterosexual relationships. Currently, LA, MS, OK, TX, FL, and AL have laws limiting or banning what can be taught in the classroom.

A report by the nonprofit group PEN America states that more than 1,600 books were banned in over 5,000 schools in the 2022 school year, and 41% of the banned books were targeted due to LGBTQ+ content.

Where is our outrage that governments are banning books and denying education?

Tennessee takes lead in Republican effort to restrict drag shows

Tennessee has become the first state to restrict drag shows.

Recently Governor Bill Lee signed a bill to ban drag shows in public spaces. This law makes drag performances illegal anywhere a minor might see them. Arguing that a minor could be “exposed” to drag anywhere essentially makes all drag shows illegal.

Tennessee is not the only state to go after drag. Other anti-drag bills have been introduced in other states—including AZ, KY, OK, ID, and others.

Where is our outrage that those who rose up and fought back are currently one of the biggest targets of these attacks? Have we forgotten that it was drag queens and trans people that started the Stonewall riots?

Florida Lawmakers Seek to Ban the Pride Flag

A new bill would also mandate that all public-school classrooms display US and state flags.

Increasingly local governments and school districts are taking action to prohibit displaying the rainbow Pride flag. These moves reflect a broader wave of GOP attacks against our community and their efforts to undo years of work to ensure we have the same rights and protections as others. Where is the outrage that we would be denied the right to our expression, yet there are no efforts to ban the rebel flag, a symbol of hate and discrimination?

Where is the outrage? Make no mistake that these politicians will do whatever they can to strip us of our rights and protections, and unless we take action, these efforts will only increase and ultimately be successful. Between 1959 and 1969, there were no less than 25 demonstrations in response to the targeting, discrimination, and harassment of our community. Why are we not marching in the streets as we have in the past? Have we become complacent and apathetic? Do we think that the fight ended with marriage equality? Have we forgotten what it was like to risk everything in order to be ourselves?

Where is the outrage?

COMMENTS: Chandu Avni (LinkedIn)

Anthony, this article does a great job at breaking down major issues with these bills. It is scary to see so many bills introduced that restrict LGBT+ rights. We deserve safety and we won’t have it if there aren’t enough people denouncing this discrimination.

If you enjoy my work please consider becoming a patron.

%d bloggers like this: