We as a community need to brace ourselves. For us in the LGBT world, the big question on our lips is how bad will the Trump era be for gays and lesbians? After all, he did throw us a bone in that 60 Minutes interview a few weeks ago, saying he was “fine” with gay marriage. I was waiting for him to tack onto that, “as long as they don’t throw it in your face.”
But just how bad will the next four years be for us? I’m here to say, it won’t be pretty. And perhaps we’ve had it too good for too long with the White House bathed in rainbow colors and pride celebrations in the East Room. Don’t get me wrong, we had lots to celebrate. But there is still plenty of fight left. And there are still plenty of folks out there that would rather not have us around. So for the next four years (I hope so, anyway), the fight will take place on three fronts.
Nationally. The next four years could be death by a thousand pricks. And those pricks are your Huckabees and Pences and scores of other hypocritical evangelicals now emboldened and in high office and ready to hand down policy. While gay marriage may be safe, I’m wagering we will see dozens of micro-policy aggressions handed down from Washington aimed at our communities. Everything from military base chapels not permitted to host same-sex weddings, to no more pride flags waving over our embassies abroad. It’s difficult to say what this could look like exactly. The scope could range from adoption, bathroom bills, to the halting of gay and lesbian historic places being recognized by the National Park Service. There could be macro-policy aggressions as well; a national religious freedom bill will be coming our way soon, allowing business owners to refuse to serve LGBTQ patrons citing “religious convictions.”
The States. If the states are the laboratory for democracy, so too are they the proving grounds for all sorts of hateful legislation aimed at LGBTQ Americans. After all, the religious freedom bills got their debuts in places like North Carolina and Mike Pence’s Indiana. A dozen other states have their versions printed and ready. Beyond those, there are other forms hate can take when it comes to legislation. Take the example of a bill coming out of the Texas Statehouse (of course) that would require teachers and guidance counselors to out students to their parents. A horrifying idea, conceived simply out of spite, but these are the bills we will have to fight, and they will be coming from all directions.
The Trickle-Down Hate. Again, there are already plenty of stories coming along in this regard. Trump kicked over a rock. And from underneath it emerged more people, again emboldened by his election, that now feel their hatefulness has legitimacy. All in all, the fight will be long. And for the right, getting rid of our thus-far champion achievement, gay marriage, will be difficult, almost impossible really. I think everyone, right and left, was a little stunned at just how popular last year’s Supreme Court decision was. But like Roe v. Wade, the right can chip away at the idea over years, making gay marriage so ugly to some that attending your gay wedding might very well be out of the question.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these bills will die in committee. Maybe legislators and governors will see what happened to Pat McCory and his efforts in North Carolina and opt not to go down the same path. All that might happen. But some will slip through. So, perhaps we should dust off our old playbook now.
It’s a good thing that LGBT Americans are never ones to shy from a fight.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He writes regularly for the Blade.