The Right-Wing’s Continuing Obsession with LGBTQ People, 2020 Version

The right-wing obsession with LGBTQ people continues in 2020. Notice that it’s far from abating and becoming more desperate.

In fact, their present reactions remind one of the movies of the knight slaying the dragon – just when it looked as if the wounded beast was slain, the knight is tempted to turn his back. Then, as a last gasp, the final and most dangerous sweep of the dragon’s tail or bite of its fangs comes at the knight before its death.

For individual right-wingers there still seems to be an obsession with what LGBTQ people do in their bedrooms. It’s both a fascination and a kind of yuck factor – very love/hate – that they believe can only be relieved through a suppression that will lead, as suppression always does, to further obsession.

But on a larger level, the obsession takes the form of not being able to let go of the idea that LGBTQ people are able to live openly happy lives. They were almost okay with the existence of LGBTQ people as long as they were convinced that “those people” were miserable and certainly not “proud.”

But all the progress just rubbed it in and, therefore they’re doing what they can to stop it. The gains threatened them - they seem to be losing the “culture wars” that they emotionally need to win, and they might lose their political clout.

So, their national legal think tanks accelerated their on-going churning out of model legislation particularly to state legislators with the goal of controlling and disenfranchising their perennial political boogeymen.

But the greater goal behind all this is still to remain in power at least long enough to secure the financial advantages of the richest of them in the face of American demographic and cultural value shifts against them.

No one should be surprised with the similarity and ubiquity of ongoing attacks around the country such as those four bills introduced in Florida. Right-wingers found this to be a winning strategy so far that galvanizes and rallies their bases, and they just can’t let go.

Because so many of those everyday supporters who aren’t making a killing off of the economic policies of conservative bosses also identify as extreme right-wing Christians, their politicians know that the churches among their constituents will reinforce their strategy. “God, Guns and Gays” still propels these believers along while they also tout being “anti-abortion” - without any effective strategy to actually end abortions.

They know to continue to call for an end to bans on prayer in the public schools even though the only actual prohibition is on institutionally enforced prayer. Anyone can pray, and as long as there are tests in the public schools, there’ll be prayers.

Likewise, right-wing politicians continue to reinforce traditional gender roles that empower right-wing religion using scare-tactics about transgender people and bathrooms. An American paranoia that demands bathroom policing has been stoked historically to oppose numerous causes such as LGBTQ people serving openly in the military and the Equal Rights Amendment.

It’s true that right-wing churches still are the major grassroots institutions for this reactionary political/religious fanaticism and for guaranteeing that masses of voters will march onward as Christian soldiers to the polls as if to war. Even those politicians who couldn’t care less about actual religious beliefs must therefore appear hyper-religious in order to dupe these believers.

And a long string of Republicans have done just that from Ronald Reagan to John McCain, to even the lewd and lascivious Donald Trump. Just being recognized, and coddled by politicians is enough for those whose actually shaky faith desperately needs help from someone other than their divinity.

It’s, then, no wonder that right-wing politicians continue to push the legalization of churches openly endorsing political candidates. They’ve already scared away the Internal Revenue Service so that it’s unlikely to enforce the current legal ban on such partisan politics. And now they’re hell-bent on making “religious liberty” mean that churches are openly free to be political institutions.

This strategy includes packing the courts, and especially the Supreme Court, with judges and justices who’ll do the rich’s economic bidding and will revive their hopes that the religious positions their right-wing religious followers have based their eternal souls on will no longer be ignored or mocked by the culture around them.

To do this, their legal think tanks worked overtime to come up with that long-term strategy of claiming “religious liberty” as an argument to get the nation to enforce any bigotry and religious sectarianism they want to wield. They needed to find a way to enforce their beliefs that didn’t openly sound as if they were saying that hate is a family value.

All their current and future cases, they expect, will thus wind their way in some form up to the kind of Supreme Court they’ve wanted. And their expectation is that this “religious liberty” argument will win the day whereas other arguments wouldn’t.

None of this should surprise us unless we just haven’t been paying attention. And the right-wing considers the strategy already working.

So we should expect more of the same. We should already have been aware that these are the three strategies that the right-wing has been using now for years:

(1) State government nullification of local protections for LGBTQ people by requiring local jurisdictions to conform to state statutes that lack LGBTQ inclusion in their nondiscrimination protections.

(2) The national push that has been dubbed “bathroom bills.” Transgender people have been chosen as the targets for those uniquely American bathroom fears.

(3) This national right-wing think-tank tactic to claim that their bills are intended to protect “religious liberty.” They’re not thereby openly admitting to targeting a group of people when they are.

These constitute their ongoing game plan. Expect no new arguments against LGBTQ people in the meantime. Science, religion, history, and sociology have heard any arguments you think are new for the last half-century – and answered them for at least that long.

But expect 2020 and years to come to be the time for what the right-wing has put in place to act itself out in this manner as its dragon tail swings away in desperation.

© 2020 Robert N. Minor

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Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas, is author of When Religion Is an Addiction; Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human; and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.FairnessProject.org

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