OPINION | Republicans threaten LGBTQ+ rights

Billy Bernfeld, Staff Writer

Hailie Goldthorpe

In recent years, far-right political extremism has amplified the effects of systemic racism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination, posing many threats to the American people. Nowadays, the devoted followers of Donald Trump and other conservatives have been emboldened to spread their bigotry and hatred as far as the eye can see. Among them are Republicans such as Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene, notorious for their support of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

While the issues surrounding them are far-reaching, we must discuss their recent focus on efforts to undermine the basic human rights of the LGBTQ+ community. With DeSantis introducing laws such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, his goal is clear: the censorship and erasure of the LGBTQ+ community in our education system. 

DeSantis has used his typical brand of fearmongering to brand topics such as sexuality and gender as “inappropriate” for students. Through this, he fuels alienation of LGBTQ+ students and limits their ability to exist in safety and security. If they are indoctrinated into believing that their sexuality and/or gender identities are “inappropriate,” then they will surely grow to resent themselves, increasing the possibility of self-harm. Now that their peers are taught that LGBTQ+ people are some sort of boogeyman, hatred, censorship and violence against us has — and will — proliferate further.

How can they exist in peace and safety if their very existence is branded as unfit for classroom discussion? When we ban the discussion of LGBTQ+ topics, we are essentially demonizing anyone who dares oppose hegemonic ideologies such as cisheteronormativity

Moreover, it creates an atmosphere where those people are vilified by the community, reinforcing the narrow-minded, outdated beliefs of the far-right, leading to further anti-LGBTQ+ violence. With his religious nationalist agenda and anti-LGBTQ+ ideology made clear as day, Ron DeSantis must be addressed for what he really is: a perpetrator of the conservative war against LGBTQ+ rights and an instigator of further hatred against innocent people.

Alongside DeSantis, Marjorie Taylor Greene continues her irrational infatuation with defaming and oppressing LGBTQ+ people. She called for an end to Pride Month due to her self-victimizing fear that heterosexual people will supposedly go extinct. On top of her intent to censor queer history and appreciation, she is also trying to outlaw gender-affirming care for trans children, which — as studies have suggested — is a dangerous idea that will negatively affect the health of transgender youth.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is a prime example of how far-right conservatives threaten this country. In her obsession with Christian nationalism and its movement to unify church and state, she feels entitled to assert her beliefs over the lives and rights of others. She doesn’t care about the lives of LGBTQ+ people — only about how she can ruin them.

As for other Republicans, marriage equality is their prime target. Five gubernatorial candidates in Michigan advocate for the overturning of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, which legalizes same-sex marriage. As expected, their reasoning is based on religious principles. For instance, Jan. 6 insurrectionist Ryan Kelley believes that same-sex marriage somehow opposes Catholicism, citing no sources and instead relying on the hope that his audience will believe his tripe. Another candidate, Ralph Rebandt believes that same-sex marriage should be banned “for the betterment of society” — although it is abundantly clear that he is referring to his own misguided fantasies of what society should be.

As for those of us who live in the real world, LGBTQ+ people should have same rights as their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts — which includes the right to healthcare, marriage and freedom from censorship. Restricting LGBTQ+ freedoms will not improve society, no matter what Ralph Rebandt wants to believe. Our rights are not up for debate, regardless of how much Republicans whine about the fact that we exist.

The GOP has many glaring issues, but their anti-LGBTQ+ policy is one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. While Democrats have made gradual efforts to curb anti-LGBTQ+ policies, the time has come for them to stand up and actually address the existential threat to our rights.

While I am a staunchly progressive person, I will gladly criticize the Democratic Party for their habit of being relatively inert when it comes to fighting back against the GOP and their antics. We took the time to vote them into office — now the time has come for them to fulfill their responsibility to protect us.

The GOP has made it clear that LGBTQ+ rights don’t matter to them. In their wake, one question remains: will others be brave enough to stand in their way, or will hesitancy and nonreactivity enable conservatives to oppress us further?

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