Being LGBTQ in America has never been the safest life to live. While public opinion has changed swiftly on the rights of queer people, there is still a long way to go legally. Many people may not realize just how few rights LGBTQ people actually have, so here is a quick rundown:
- People can still be fired, evicted, and denied basic public services in 26 states
- Some states still allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples
- Many states make it nearly impossible for transgender people to legally change their gender
- Title IX protections no longer apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
- Federal non-discrimination protections for federal workers from the Obama era have been rolled back
And that is just the major ones. There are much more insidious things happening at the federal level to attack LGBTQ people – including LGBTQ youth. Under the Trump Administration, the State Department is trying to revoke the citizenship of a baby who happens to have been born in Canada to a surrogate because his dads are gay. They claim that because one of the dads is not an American citizen (even though one of them is), the baby cannot get an American passport. Their argument is that the biological father is not American, and therefore neither is the baby. The baby’s brother’s father is an American citizen, though. Both fathers’ names are on the birth certificates of both babies. Therefore, the father who is an American citizen is legally the parent of both children. This is never an issue with straight parents because all that is needed in these cases is legal parental rights. The State Department is only making this difference in order to deny this gay couple’s legal rights as a married couple.
The anti-LGBTQ sentiments of the Trump Administration has also reached into the school system. Betsy DeVos, under the direction of now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was forced to remove guidelines for the ethical and human protection of transgender students in the public school systems. They are even going so far as to legally redefine gender, so that, in essence, transgender people do not legally exist. And, of course, no one can forget Trump’s banishment of transgender soldiers from the military, which he announced via tweet.
There are also dangerous things happening with regards to the health of LGBTQ people. They have introduced a so-called “conscience rule,” in which healthcare providers have the right to deny care to LGBTQ people. Further, they have gone after critical HIV/AIDS programs, including those at the Centers for Disease Control. Luckily, Congress rejected the cuts last October, for the time being.
This should come as no surprise, though. Vice President Mike Pence has a huge amount of control over social policy in the Trump Administration, and this is a man who is notoriously anti-LGBTQ. He has championed conversion therapy in the past, (though of course he and his people deny that now). That issue came up again when Pence got into a back-and-forth with Adam Rippon, the first openly gay Olympian on the United States team. Here is the report on that debacle:
That is just the top of the iceberg of Pence’s anti-LGBTQ bigotry, which he cloaks in “religious freedom.” While he was governor of Indiana, Pence signed one of the most harshly discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in the nation. When the controversy garnered national negative attention for Pence, he went on a damage control tour. While in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Pence could not even say that he did not believe that LGBTQ people should not be discriminated against. Here is that interview:
Pence even once ignited an HIV epidemic in his own state by defunding prevention programs. He said that this money should be directed toward people who want to, quote, “change their sexual behavior.” That is, of course, code for conversion therapy on the Religious Right.
So, in other words, this open bigot is the one who is behind the policies of this administration when it comes to LGBTQ rights and other social policies. Pence’s extreme and draconian beliefs are quickly becoming law.
To that end, it can only be concluded that the Trump Administration has made America an incredibly dangerous place for LGBTQ people. When the very government sends the message that a certain segment of the population is less than the rest, it gives permission to those who already harbor hateful beliefs to the next level. There is no doubt that the sentiments coming from the White House and the Republicans in Congress have contributed to the uptick in hate crimes that has taken place since Trump took the lead in the 2016 campaign and especially since he took office. The New York Times reports that the number has climbed for the third straight year in a row.
People who do not belong to the LGBTQ community may say that they see no difference between what is happening now and what happened during the Obama years with regards to LGBTQ rights. But, as I have outlined here, there has been a relentless assault on what rights we do have from the very top of the federal government. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the GOP Congress are doing all they can to make America as deeply dangerous as they can for a subset of their fellow Americans, simply because we live and love differently than they believe we ought to. Think about that next time the Republican Party tries to claim the mantle of freedom. They believe in freedom for no one but themselves.
Should you live in a state that agrees with the stances of the Trump/Pence regime and you are LGBTQ, there is hope. If you have the resources, there are states to relocate to with laws that protect you within that state – even as the federal government continues its inhumane and sinister agenda to legislate our very existence into the land of the criminal. Here is a helpful hate map to aid in your decision.