Make no mistake about it. We are marked as the enemy. The attacks grow more brutal every day, and more widespread. and they're being made in the name of Righteous Religious Piety in this period of absolute religious fervor.
The dogma of these attackers is being broadcast throughout the country: Queers want to shred the moral fiber of society, want to prey on its children, spread disease with promiscuity, secure "special" rights through our anti-social "agenda", obliterate the sanctity of marriage and blaspheme all that's held dear.
Throughout history, power mad, crooked governments and zealots have invented enemy threats to increase their authority. Frequently, the enemy at home is the enemy of choice. It means there are no wars to fight; no funds to secure; it's a great way to shore up the base; to reward the faithful; and it smothers the population in panic and fear.
In the name of "security", many groups have been targeted and attacked. The players change, but the basic formula is the same:
It can be anyone "different", anyone unfamiliar.
In George Bush's America, these power hungry politicians and evangelical Christians have settled on a perfect enemy -- one everyone agrees on, one that's worked well for generations. Homos. We're everywhere, but invisible; everyone's at least a little squeamish about us; we have no civil rights; and above all, few will come to our defense, not even our parents or families.
So while the extreme right leads a full out charge on Queer Americans, the Bush administration provides tacit support. The Rapture Right gets the taste of blood while Bush Inc. gets exactly what they wanted -- less taxes for the rich, gobs of war profit, conservative judges on the bench, the privatization of social security, the end of the New Deal, a strictly controlled media and a one-party government.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, calls the religious right's anti-gay campaign a "30-year war". In these 30 years, there have been more than 100 anti-gay ballot initiatives seeking to repeal or prevent the passage of sexual orientation non-discrimination laws.
In 1977, Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign -- the first anti-gay campaign to get national attention -- overturned an anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Florida.
That same year, the Moral Majority, a right wing group started by Rev. Jerry Falwell, issued a "Declaration of War" against homosexuality. Now, decades later, Falwell's still on the scene, along with his ideas -- he partially blamed the 9/11 attacks on gay men and lesbians, directly linking homos with terrorism. The war against Queers is alive and kicking.
Karl Rove & Co. piggybacked on this homo-hatred to push Bush's economic and political agenda, painting anyone against their policies as "homo-lovers". When the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) came out against privatization of social security, the same right wingers who produced the "Swift Boat" attacks on John Kerry created a commercial falsely claiming the AARP supported gay marriage and did not support the military in Iraq. Their commercial showed two tuxedo-clad men kissing with the caption "The REAL AARP agenda" next to a picture of a soldier with an "X" through it.
The campaign against so-called "activist judges" began in earnest with the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage. Of course, right-wing judges -- also "activist" -- are just fine. Bush's recently ratified nominee for the federal bench is William H. Pryor, Jr. In a legal brief to the Texas Supreme Court in support of the Texas anti-sodomy law, he argued that decriminalizing gay sex would lead to legalized sex with corpses, sex with animals and child pornography.
"Justice Sunday", the recent national judge-bashing simulcast, was organized by a coalition of evangelical Christian organizations led by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council -- two groups with long histories of virulent hatred of lesbians and gay men. The central message of the event was that Democrats want to use the filibuster to block the confirmation of a handful of judicial nominees "because they are people of faith and moral conviction -- whose only offense is to say that abortion is wrong or that marriage should be between one man and one woman."
Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader of the Senate and Tom Delay, the Republican majority leader of the House supported and spoke on Justice Sunday. With dwindling separation between church and state, the radical right is now a unified force of political born-agains, including the President. In their version of the world, Queers are the enemy, out to steal, disrupt and undermine all they hold dear. Queers are the perfect scapegoat, since they SAY we threaten their definition of a "Christian way of life". The more they hate us, the more they fear us. And the more they fight us, the more "Christian" they become. So, hating us is not only good, it's holy. It secures their seat in the hereafter at the same time as it condemns us to hell. Perfect!
To make everyone else feel secure, we are offered up. They want us dead in our tracks, marginalized, dehumanized in every way possible. They want Queers deleted from the American landscape.
The Bush administration and its Rapture Right are masters at this Panic and Attack technique. Since the end of the Cold War and the removal of the communist threat, the political and religious right have been cultivating new demons to replace it. So for a grossly incompetent, do-nothing President, 9/11 was a gift from above. Now this Nitwit Non-thinker from Texas could throw on his hat and holster and magnify our fears with a global game of Cowboys and Indians. In this simplistic world of good and evil where "you're either with us or against us", he made an unfamiliar enemy crystal clear, extremely reassuring to our shell-shocked nation. He stoked our panic with the claim that Terrorism was everywhere, and all of it was aimed at America. Never mind that the rest of the world has dealt with the same terror for half a century, along with other terrorist threats, without freezing the earth on its axis.
This elaborate sleight-of-hand helped Daddy WarBush shape himself as the Great Protector. During a time of national panic he has capitalized on America's fear by feeding us simplistic answers to dupe us into "feeling" secure. But are Americans actually secure? As the facts roll in, it's increasingly clear the war in Iraq had nothing to do with terror. And since the war, acts of terrorism in the world have increased by 80%, and anti-American sentiment is greater than ever. So what we have instead of security is the illusion of security. Our nation is definitely terrorized but the terror is coming from Washington.
With a one-two punch, Bush has manipulated America's insecurity into a frenzy of obedience. Some of it has been used to support the creation of restrictions on our civil liberties, some on discriminatory immigration and deportation policies targeting anyone who might be Muslim or South Asian. The rest has been aimed at Queer America. But while queer existence is being used to fool the Bible Belt into feeling more "safe", who guarantees queer security? Who will protect us from the Bush administration and the Rapture Right? From the homegrown American terrorists, like the ones who bombed gay bars, abortion clinics, or the Oklahoma federal Building? From the people and places that are supposed to protect us, like our families, our communities, our schools? How will we Queers keep ourselves safe?
Our LGBT political and legal organizations are putting all of their money into fighting anti-gay marriage amendments, as if marriage was the most pressing issue in our lives. But is marriage really the answer to healthcare, to housing, anti-gay violence or discrimination? While they focus on the tax-breaks benefiting the tiny percentage of married queers, the rest of us face the real problems of life. Only 10 States have laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Six more also ban discrimination based on gender identity. It's still perfectly legal in 35 states to fire someone from their job solely because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 13 states ban sexual orientation based discrimination in housing. Meanwhile, Bush's faith-based initiatives are diverting scarce funds for social programs to evangelical right wing churches, exempting them from following anti-discrimination legislation that might exist in their state.
So only closeted queers can earn a living? Only closeted queers get social services? We should continue to lose our children in custody battles? We should still live in fear of anti-gay violence?
On top of all this, the right wing is busy devising new ways to restrict us. Consider the following: recently a lesbian in California was denied medical treatment because of her sexuality. it's a familiar scenario to queers all over America. But now the right wing wants to codify it into law.
In the Michigan legislature a bill passed their House chamber that would allow healthcare workers to refuse to service someone on moral, ethical or religious grounds. It hasn't passed the other Republican controlled chamber, but it could. Bills have also been introduced permitting pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on the same basis. This not only refers to their anti-abortion stance; they could also refuse to treat gay people or to fill AIDS prescriptions.
We are also still being treated as if our sexual behavior is perverse and should lead to legal consequences. A gay teen in Kansas was sentenced to 17 years in prison for having sex with another 17-year-old boy. if his sexual partner had been a girl of the same age his sentence would have been 15 months.
The attack on LGBT youth is widespread. Many schools are refusing to allow gay-straight clubs. In the California assembly there is a bill pending that prohibits the "promotion" of homosexuality in public education. Meanwhile, lesbian and gay youth are more likely to drop out of school, face anti-gay violence, and to commit suicide.
Like the rest of America, Queers are also desperate for protection and security. And likewise, we think the only way to survive these attacks is to put our lives into the hands of those who pledge to keep us safe and secure. But just like the terrorist threat, what we really get is the illusion of security. and, for this illusion of security, for the "feeling" of protection, we settle for crumbs. We support so-called "liberal politicians" who do not stand up for us -- Bill Clinton and his "don't ask, don't tell" policy; Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, who both oppose gay marriage; Michael Bloomberg, who vetoed the Dignity for All Students Act to prevent bullying against gay youth and, when it was passed again over his veto, refused to implement it, dubbing it "silly" and "illegal". He also talks out of both sides of his mouth about gay marriage in New York City, saying he supports it but allowing his legal team to fight it at the state level.
Queers continue to support LGBT organizations that go after what they think they can win, not what we really need. We give money to the Human rights Campaign, which said it might be willing to support Bush's privatization of social security in exchange for "survivors benefits" for gay couples. But since privatization will destroy social security, it won't be there for anyone -- coupled or not. and, when only a miniscule percentage of gay people are in long-term monogamous relationships, are survivor benefits really the most pressing issue? What about PWAs and all the other disabled LGBT people relying on social security?
The truth is, these politicians and organizations are only concerned with their own political survival -- not ours.