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Gay Dems excuse Obama’s failings for party invitations

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By RICHARD GRENELL

Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart is so easy. If only President Obama had known sooner that a simple dinner invitation for Jonathan meant that he wouldn’t have to deliver changes for gays and lesbians throughout the country. We’re all good now that the president invited Jonathan and his friends over for dinner. After all, the sins of bad public positions can be erased with private niceties, right? If you’re a Democrat they can.

Republicans don’t get that pass. Remember when Jonathan and the other self-appointed gay leaders complimented President Bush for inviting his private gays to his State Dinner? Or remember when Washington’s professional gay leadership celebrated Vice President Dick Cheney for being the first nationally elected sitting leader to support gay marriage? You don’t because Capehart and company only squeal with excitement when Democrats have private pronouncements. Within hours of leaving the White House, Capehart announced in a column, “President Obama is pretty evolved already.”

But has he? Last summer, President Obama reiterated his opposition to gay marriage in New York City one day before New York politicians passed marriage equality for their state. He did it again a few days later at the White House. The president and his political advisers surely must have calculated the consequences for taking such a timely stand. And they must have decided there was more benefit to opposing gay marriage than supporting it. The president’s calculus isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising. After all, he was only following Nancy Pelosi’s lead of the last several years by playing politics with gay issues and gay Americans. Obama, Pelosi and Harry Reid had two years of total control in Washington, D.C., and decided they didn’t need to deliver. They’d rather play politics.

There are Republicans and other Democrats more supportive of gay equality issues than Obama – and some just as tepid – so why are gay leaders putting all their trust into a man that isn’t performing?  The answer is, of course, more politics.

The overwhelming majority of people running gay organizations are Democratic activists that don’t want or believe in bipartisan politics. They just want Democrats to win elections. Capehart and the folks at HRC know that if they can’t deliver the gay votes and money for their Democratic Party candidates then they won’t get bigger jobs, consulting gigs or dinner invites.  They are loyal to their party at the expense of the movement.  It’s politically smart – if you want to further your career within the Democratic Party, that is.

Gay leaders in Washington deserve this duplicitous president. After all, they have protected Obama since 2008 when they ignored his public position against gay marriage but attacked John McCain for having the exact same stance. These and other hypocritical actions by gays and lesbians encouraged Obama to take them for granted. Why would Democratic politicians need to deliver on equal rights if there were no consequences for playing both sides of an issue? Gays were going to support Obama no matter what, so the president, like all politicians, pocketed their support and moved on. There was no threat of losing their support, so why pay attention to their issues?  Especially when there is a plethora of other needy constituencies clamoring for favors.

It’s actually been a smart political strategy to keep the leaders close and feeling important.  They must think they are political masters inside that White House. Not delivering on gay equality risks nothing – Obama can keep the gay base of money and support but reach out to moderate evangelicals and religious activists that still need to be wooed. And the gay liberal media are happy to help keep everyone hyped up and happy – as long as they get their invites.  I can hear Capehart now, “turn up the music and open the bar; they’ll be happy.”

White House reporter Julie Mason of Politico nailed Obama’s political calculation when she said, “[Obama] doesn’t want to alienate some moderates who are not really comfortable with the president taking that strong a stand on gay marriage. So it’s a bit of a political calculation. Also, I’m just not sure he personally believes it.” Maureen Dowd of the New York Times speculates, “Obama fears the disapproval of the homophobic elements within his own party.”

And Jacob Bernstein, from Newsweek admitted, “I mean, there is on one hand this argument, well, the gays have nowhere to go, and that’s probably true.”

If gays are going to win support for their political issues, they better start playing smarter politics. It would be news to most gays that John Bolton, Laura Bush, Cindy McCain and Dick Cheney all disagree with President Obama and support marriage equality. New York State passed gay marriage after Republicans and Democrats worked together to push an issue, not a candidate or a political party. Gay Democratic leaders like Andrew Tobias can argue for more and new taxes, more protections for big labor unions and universal healthcare but they shouldn’t be allowed to turn the gay movement into a wing of the Democratic Party.

However likely or unlikely you think it is for Obama to evolve, giving Obama unequivocal support so early is politically stupid. As my grandpa used to say, “Why buy the cow if you are getting the milk for free?” But a wavering Obama hasn’t stopped gay leaders, gay media and the mainstream media from protecting him and growing their careers. Could the first African-American president not be for total equality for everyone?  Shut up and RSVP, yes. I’m bringing my boyfriend to the White House.

(Richard Grenell served eight years as a political appointee of President George W. Bush. He and his partner were guests of the president and first lady at numerous White House events, including the September 2008 White House State Dinner for President John Kufour of the Republic of Ghana. Reach him via twitter.com/richardgrenell.)

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. MDL

    March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t understand why the gays give Obama a pass on gay rights…. HE’S DONE NOTHING!

  2. Peter Rosenstein

    March 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    This is an interesting column. I actually also questioned Jonathan Capehart’s column and have written my own in this issue of the Blade calling for the Democratic Party to get on the right side of history and to put a plank in their platform supporting marriage-equality.

    But then I am also going to vote for Obama whether he does it or not and the reason for that is not only has he moved the LGBT community forward more than any other President in history, but all his potential opposition is so totally untenable. Using luminaries like Laura Bush to show how far Repbulicans have come is a false comparison. She didn’t come out for marriage-equality while her husband was running for President and Dick Cheney was far from a supporter for years even with an openly Lesbian daughter. The Republican Speaker of the House is funding the fight in support of DOMA because the President won’t and the only remaining Republican Candidates are fighting over who can be more homophobic and be stronger about rolling back the repeal of DADT and enshrining DOMA as law.

    So while Jonathan Capehart may have been slightly influenced to say those nice things in his column after an exciting night at the White no Republican should have the nerve to try and compare their Party’s efforts on behalf of the LGBT community with what this President has managed to do. Yes I want the President to fully “evolve” but I would also like the Republican candidates to move out of the 18th century.

  3. JCF

    March 17, 2012 at 4:47 am

    “Obama, Pelosi and Harry Reid had two years of total control in Washington, D.C., and decided they didn’t need to deliver.”

    And that’s why DADT is still the law of the land. Oh, wait…

    Mr Grenell, Ken Mehlman at least had a bare semblence of decency to APOLOGIZE for being a tool of militantly anti-LGBT George W. Bush. Awaiting your apology. Until then, rather the sound-of-crickets, than spurious comparisons of Laura Bush (!) to President Obama. [“Last summer, President Obama reiterated his opposition to gay marriage in New York City one day before New York politicians passed marriage equality for their state”: utter BS!!!!]

  4. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    March 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    AS A REPUBLICAN, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY DEMOCRATIC HOMOSEXUALS ARE PRESSURING THE PRESIDENT FOR AN “ALL-OUT” SUPPORT OF HOMOSEXUAL ISSUES. THAT WOULD BE POLITICAL SUICIDE. HOMOSEXUAL CITIZENS ARE A “SUB-BASE” FOR THE PRESIDENT. HIS PRIMARY BASE IS THE HETEROSEXUAL NEGRO COMMUNITY AND – TO A LESSER DEGREE – THE CAUCASIAN INDUSTRIAL CLASS FROM THE NORTH-CENTRAL/MIDDLE REGIONS OF AMERICA. THERE IS STILL A, “long row to hoe.”
    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  5. Zinsation

    March 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Its simple, really. We have a president who, time and time again, has said he doesn’t believe inequality should be enshrined in our Constitution. We have major Republican presidential candidates who openly advocate for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. We have a president to refuses to defend DOMA, believing it unconstitutional. We have Republican leaders in the House wasting resources to defend it. We have a president who openly admits his views are “evolving”. We have a Republican party that panders to a small, vocal minority, resulting in a general policy that looks like “less government in business, more government in the bedroom”. Sorry, but I’ll take my chances with the “evolving” president rather than the bunch of right-wing moralists that seem to have taken control of the Republican party.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      March 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      SIR,
      WE ARE DEALING WITH AN ISSUE WHICH “GOES STRAIGHT TO THE HEART” OF MANY AMERICANS – OF ALL POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES. THIS ISSUE IS RELIGION. WE ARE LIVING IN A TIME IN WHICH MANY YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT GO TO CHURCH. [Think about it, the National Football League makes a whole lot of money at the exact time church services are in progress. Think about all of the forms of secular entertainment to be enjoyed on Sundays – casinos, etc.]. THEREFORE, THE CHURCH IS IN CRISIS AND FIGHTING FOR ITS OWN EXISTENCE. SURE, PEOPLE OF FAITH ARE GOING TO POUNCE [AND, HARD] ON THE ISSUE OF HOMOSEXUALITY.
      THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  6. a.mcewen

    March 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Blah, blah, blah. When you make as much effort in standing against and castigating the extreme homophobic element in the Republican Party, then come talk to us.

  7. Gary Cox

    March 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I am very proud of the Blade for publishing this article. We need a vigorous debate about the President and his policies. It doesn’t help any gay person to be attached to a President that cant deliver on the economy. The President have delivered poverty and government dependence, and that is not good for any gay person. Gay persons want jobs to feed their families and have a future, not platitudes from an “evolving” President.

    • Bayhuntr

      April 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Mr Cox, exactly what should he had done in your wise opinion, that wouldn’t had been blocked by the Republicans? More tax cuts for the rich? More deregulation of Wall Street? Please enlighten us with your awe-inspiring specifics? Those 8 million jobs (and tax revenue) that were lost just before Obama took over and the off budget wars and the Unfunded drug give-a-way, and the unfunded tax cuts, Mr Cox, dazzle us with your big over sized brain!

      • George Z.

        April 21, 2012 at 3:23 am

        Not torture Bradley Manning?

  8. Heather K

    March 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I’m lesbian and I would never vote for this criminal again. He’s worse than bush! obama doesn’t believe that any American citizen should have rights or freedom. Let’s see, the NDAA, SOPA,ACTA, the renewal of the patriot act (the appeal of the 4th amendment) not to mention all the vacations he has taken while the rest of us lose our jobs and homes… What else needs to be said? He is the worse president EVER!!!! This time around everyone needs not to vote strictly for a party, but we need to do our own research and vote for principle! I’ve done mine and theres only one candidate that has a proven 30 year record in fighting for all of us, straight, gay, black, white, etc, and thats Ron Paul! Besides he is the only one that will bring out troops home, END THE WAR”S”!!!!

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      March 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      “Heather K,”
      IN 2008 I SUPPORTED SENATOR JOHN McCAIN. HOWEVER, I WOULD NOT CALL OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT A CRIMINAL.
      THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    • Bayhuntr

      April 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

      You’ve done your research? Let’s start with the easy evidence that that isn’t the case, how many vacation days did Bush take compared to Obama?
      I think there are right wing operatives, who scan the internet looking for venues to trash Obama. You can usually spot them by how over the top their rederic is. “Obama is the worst president ever and Ron Paul is just dreamy”

  9. jcdchawk

    March 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    How dare the President not do 100% of everything we want and not do it immediately. After all from all the complaints about him not doing so I have to assume that he has done 100% of what every other groups has wanted of him. Political reality be damned!

    We should continue to push hard to get the President and other Democratic leaders to bring our goal of full equality to a successful conclusion. Still, it is foolish to ignore the political reality that not every part of this goal can be accomplished immediately. We need less complaining and more celebration of how much has been accomplished while we continue to push forward for full equality.

  10. Surely U Jest

    March 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Ron Paul does not have a 30 year record fighting on behalf of Gay Americans. He has a 30 year record of fighting federalism which at times happens to support advancements in gay equality. It is by happenstance, not by design.

    For example, Dr. Paul states: “The choices are not limited to either banning gay marriage at the federal level, or giving up and accepting it as inevitable. A far better approach, rarely discussed, is for Congress to exercise its existing constitutional power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts. Congress could statutorily remove whole issues like gay marriage from the federal judiciary, striking a blow against judicial tyranny and restoring some degree of states’ rights.”

    So, it’s true that he believes the federal government should not regulate marriage, but at the same time he advocates for something far more detrimental to achieving marriage equality. He promotes the notion that state legislatures or electorates should have a SACROSANCT right to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples and be able to act with impunity.

    No thanks, Heather.

  11. Rickindc

    March 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Obama is not our friend, so stop being a tool for him!

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      March 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      “Rickindc,”
      I CAN NOT DISAGREE WITH YOUR STATEMENT. HOWEVER, NO PRESIDENT IN HIS RIGHT MIND COULD BE CALLED FRIEND BASED ON YOUR DEFINITION.
      THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
      CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  12. BobN

    April 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

    There was a time when, to get published in the gay press, you had to have cred. You had to have DONE SOMETHING for gay rights. You had to be involved. You had move the ball forward. Today, thanks to the corporate ownership of the gay press and its purposeful move to the right, all you need is an (R) behind your name. Then, load dumped, you go back to making money and donating to the very folks who would make you go back into the closet.

  13. Frank

    April 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Obama has done a great deal to support the gay community, including fighting to end DADT and not defending DOMA. He may not be as strong on our issues as I wish, but to compare his sometimes tepid support with the outright disdain by the Republicans is outrageous. Romney has signed a pledge to discriminate against us! He has appointed Robert Bork (the most socially conservative element in the judicial system) to be his judicial counsel. The Republicans vote as a block against gays every opportunity they get. The Democrats are not perfect, but gays voting for Republicans is like Jews voting for Nazis.

  14. Dan

    April 21, 2012 at 3:23 am

    That article is by Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, a gay Republican who was a member of the Bush administration (even though they made it clear to him when he was at the UN that his partner would not be acknowledged), and who has consulted to anti-gay organizations. No one knows better about being “loyal to their party at the expense of the movement” better than that weasel.

  15. JeremiahA

    April 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    “Marriage equality” is a nonsensical statement. The rights and restrictions of state-sanctioned matrimony are already shared by all citizens equally. What is being proposed with same-sex marriage is a new artificial institution that has no essential public policy purpose. According to the Judge Walker and Reinhardt’s definition of marriage, my mother and my grandmother are married…or should be.

    And so now, in this article, it has once again been made clear that Mr. Romney and his staff have made false statements when expressing their support for marriage. We cannot trust Mr. Obama. We cannot trust Mr. Romney.

    It is time to pack our bags and move…

  16. Dan

    May 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I just have to say, reading this petulant and petty little piece of tripe on the day Grenell quit the Romney campaign after being hounded out by right-wing homophobes and hung out to dry by his best buddy Mitt makes it really, really funny.

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Opinions

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ clouds Powell’s legacy

A final act of redemption

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (Photo by Susan Montgomery via Bigstock)

The legacy of General Colin Powell is complicated for those in the LGBTQ community. On the one hand, we celebrate that Powell was the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. On the other, he is also the person who disobeyed the strategic choice of his Commander in Chief, Bill Clinton, on gays in the military. 

Powell stood on the steps of the Pentagon reporting how many calls had been received opposing lifting the ban. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the service of openly gay troops would harm unit cohesion. He argued that race was a “benign characteristic” and being gay was not. Congress codified into statute what had been a regulatory ban on gays in the military, making the law that much harder to change. Almost 14,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual service members were dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a rate of two-four service members every day. Some were subjects of witch hunts. Others faced criminal charges. Many endured harassment, assault and threats. Private First Class Barry Winchell was murdered.

Michelle Benecke and I knew when we founded Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to be repealed, we would have to either win the support or neutralize the opposition of Powell, one of the previously undisclosed strategies described in my new book, “Mission Possible.” Michelle and I first met him at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of America’s Promise. We offered to brief him on the ban’s implementation as he was being asked on the Sunday shows about the law’s efficacy. He agreed to see us.

The question was whether we could find common ground on which to build a new consensus. My theory was that Powell genuinely believed that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a better policy than the one before it. After all, he had testified before the Senate, “We will not ask, we will not witch-hunt, we will not seek to learn orientation.” 

“General Powell,” I said, “we have received nearly a thousand calls from service members who have been impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We have documented that most are being asked point blank about their sexual orientation in contravention of ‘Don’t Ask.’” 

“That’s not supposed to happen,” he said.

That was our first conversation. We might have been able to better enforce some of the meager gains under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if we had been able to prevail upon Powell to help us, but he wasn’t ready. 

In 2003, he told Teen Ink magazine that while discrimination is wrong, “I think it’s a different matter with respect to the military, because you’re essentially told who you’re going to live with, who you’re going to sleep next to.”

Four years later, he called me, prompted by an opinion essay in The New York Times that I had sent him. “Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military”—written by retired Army General John Shalikashvili, Powell’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs—called for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Powell and I spoke for 45 minutes. “I agree with General Shalikashvili that America has changed and is ready for gays to serve openly,” he said. My heart leapt. “I am not convinced, however, that military commanders are ready for that change.” My heart sunk.

It was clear to me, though, that he was moving in the right direction.  I put it on the line. “Sir, you will be a critical voice on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ when it comes up for debate again. I need you to support repeal if we are going to win. Do you know that?”

“Yes,” he said.

Finally, on Feb. 5, 2010, 10 months before final repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and days after Admiral Mike Mullen had testified before the Senate that he supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Powell released a statement. “If the chiefs and commanders are comfortable with moving to change the policy, then I support it. Attitudes and circumstances have changed. Society is reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.” The stage was set for final repeal.

We too often look for heroes and villains when the record can be complicated. Powell deserves opprobrium for defying Clinton, rallying opposition, and allowing 60,000 troops under his command to suffer the indignity of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He deserves credit, though, for changing his mind. I admired his willingness to speak with me over nearly two decades. I find that the best leaders engage in a lifelong process of learning and challenging assumptions. Powell will receive deserved accolades for his service to our nation, but for us, his legacy includes a profound betrayal with a final act of redemption.

C. Dixon Osburn is author of ‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’’

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal serves as a guide for enacting equality legislation

Equality Act supporters should take cues from Senate moderates

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Equality legislation is close to passing in Congress, but close isn’t good enough. “Close” won’t change anything for the LGBTQ Americans who face discrimination every day. Senate Democrats and Republicans must make a push to negotiate. With a reach on both sides to find common ground, we can move equality legislation from “close” to “done deal.”

Some Democrats are waiting for the filibuster to end—despite clear evidence that they lack the votes to end it. Some Republicans are practicing a tried-and-true brand of obstructionism. To break this deadlock, we should look to the successful, bipartisan repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) as a guide.

The DADT repeal is the single reference point for LGBTQ advocates for overcoming the Senate filibuster. Other victories have been in the courts; notably, the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that made gay marriage legal nationwide.

Before Obergefell, advocates had success in the state legislatures. I worked on campaigns for the freedom to marry in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere, finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans who thought it was impossible to negotiate on marriage. Eventually, enough people from both parties came together to pass marriage laws in a majority of states.

Working together at the state level is one thing. Congress is another.

Despite Democrats’ control of the White House, Senate and House, negotiations are failing at the federal level. So, we lets look to ancient history—the 2010 repeal of DADT—for guidance on reaching 60 votes in the Senate.

The most important lesson from the DADT repeal is that Senate moderates must champion the cause and lead negotiations. The more partisan figures on both sides need to step back. Overcoming the filibuster is a job for moderates, not ideologues.

As it happens, the hero of the DADT repeal is still a senator and can help. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine led the negotiations on DADT repeal.

Senator Collins supports the Equality Act in principle and even sponsored a version of the bill in past. However, the current version is too extreme for Sen. Collins, as a result, she has withdrawn as a co-sponsor. The current bill has also foundered with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another important figure in the repeal of DADT.

The fact that moderate, pro-LGBTQ senators are unable to back the current version of the Equality Act should send a clear message to Democrats that we need to make reasonable changes to the bill. So far, the message is being ignored.

On the Democratic side, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman was essential to the repeal of DADT. There certainly were passionate, liberal Democrats who could have asserted themselves during the debate. But then, the bill would have taken longer to pass, or even might have failed.

The lesson is clear. Listen to the moderates. Let them lead this charge.

Another important lesson from the repeal of DADT is to be flexible in the legislative strategy. DADT repeal was originally an amendment to a large defense authorization bill. Rather than give up, Collins and Lieberman fought and saved DADT repeal from defeat by pulling out key provisions they knew could pass on their own and making them a standalone measure. Repeal passed with bipartisan support.

The current version of the Equality Act tries to do too much. That’s why it can’t win support from moderate Republicans who have legitimate concerns the bill might suppress free speech or shut down religious charities.  

Over 60 senators can agree on the basic premise of the Equality Act. They would gladly vote to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and public accommodations, so long as the law didn’t intrude on the First Amendment.

If the far left believes that our country has too much religious liberty, they can deal with that in future legislation. But so long as we have a filibuster—and, there’s no indication it will end any time soon—the Equality Act needs to reflect our society’s current views on religious liberty.  

The DADT repeal passed with 65 votes in the Senate, overcoming the filibuster. Let’s replicate that victory by using the same playbook. Moderates: Take the lead.

Tyler Deaton is the senior advisor to the American Unity Fund, a conservative nonprofit organization working to advance LGBTQ freedom and religious freedom

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LGBTQ people are being hunted down in Afghanistan

Homosexuality punishable by death under Taliban Sharia law interpretation

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

Kabul was known as one of the few “liberal” cities in Afghanistan. The word liberal is in quotation marks, and inflected, because it is liberal compared to the rest of the country. Now that the Taliban has taken over, most people who expressed themselves differently and openly are forced to adhere to Sharia law, completely change their ways, hide their identity, or be killed.

The U.S. State Department reported in 2020 that even before the Taliban took power in August, LGBTQ people in Afghanistan faced “discrimination, assault and rape” and “homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent.” Laws against lesbian, gay and transgender people made their existence illegal and punishable by up to two years in jail. Those laws were not always enforced, but they did leave LGBTQ people at risk of extortion and abuse by authorities, as reported by the U.K. government.

Even with the discrimination and abuse, LGBTQ people still had a sliver of space in society. Nemat Sadat, an LGBTQ Afghan author living in the United States said that gay, lesbian and transgender people helped the country’s cultural life develop since the Taliban’s last rule 20 years ago. But, most of these people built their lives quietly.

Now with the Taliban regime, their sliver of space in society is gone, there is no room to live quietly as an openly LGBTQ person. Under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality is punished by death.

In an interview with Reuters, Waheedullah Hashimi, a top decision maker for the Taliban said, “there will be no democratic system at all because it does not have a base in our country,” and continued to say, “what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”

One source spoke to a 20-year-old university student who is lesbian in Afghanistan. Her family accepted her as a lesbian, but now the new Taliban leadership has put the lives of all of her family at risk. There is a new surge of violence against any lesbian, gay and transgender people. This includes anyone speculated of being lesbian, gay, or trans, and those who support them.

This young lesbian woman has gone into hiding. She is part of hundreds of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan who are pleading with advocates and organizations outside Afghanistan for help to escape the Taliban tyranny.

Nemat Sadat shares stories of lesbian, gay and trans people in hiding. He shared a story of a gay man who watched from his hiding place in the ceiling as Taliban fighters beat the friend who refused to disclose his location.  

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan fear the risk of being arrested, beaten and killed. The Taliban made it clear that it is enforcing its strict religious laws against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ citizens. In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality: “stoning or being crushed under a wall.”

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan are reporting that their friends, partners and members of their community are being attacked and raped. They also stated that Islamic fundamentalists and riotous groups are encouraged by the new tyranny and are on the hunt for LGBTQ people.

Another source shared that a gay man was targeted for his sexuality and then raped by his male attackers. That is a terrible paradox. He was raped by his male attackers, who criminalizing him for having same sex relations.

LGBTQ people are in hiding, desperately trying to get out of the country, and trying to erase any proof of their queer identity.

They feel abandoned by the international LGBTQ community. The Taliban is proving that the Western nations have normalized relations to their government. The Taliban and their supporters see this a proof of their victory. This leaves LGBTQ people defeated and fearing torture and death.

The U.S. government and other Western countries evacuated many people out of Afghanistan, including journalists, women’s rights activists and those who worked with foreigners. But, LGBTQ activists said that nothing has been done for them. A source says about her situation, “we will definitely be killed. We are asking to be evacuated immediately from Afghanistan.” To date, no safe route has been found.

Even underground measures to help LGBTQ people are challenging and near impossible. The Rainbow Railroad is a non-governmental organization helping LGBTQ people around the world escape persecution. Executive Director Kimahli Powell said evacuating LGBTQ people from Afghanistan is especially hard as they are often alone, in hiding, and unable to contact each other. If routes to get them out is nearly impossible, that still means those routes are somewhat possible. As difficult as it may be, we must find pathways to save these people and get them out.

The Taliban regime has established itself, knowing with certainty that the world will stand aside, albeit condemning and protesting, but not intervening. This is empowering jihadists across the world, especially in the Middle East. The Taliban has many allies and admirers, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. 

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, travelled from Palestinian territories to meet with Taliban leaders in Qatar. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a history of ties to the Taliban, even with radicals joining each other’s organizations. Very public statements of congratulations were made between leaders of the Taliban, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and all with full Iranian support.

The increase in brazen forcefulness of these groups reaches beyond Afghanistan, and spreads to the lands dominated by other similar groups. This causes an escalation of the threats to anyone who opposes Sharia law or who lives differently than what Sharia law allows. LGBTQ people in these lands are in peril. 

If we do not help LGBTQ people in Afghanistan, the lives of LGBTQ people under other similar tyrannies face increased uncertainty and danger.

Since posting this video, I have been receiving direct messages from LGBTQ people in hiding in Afghanistan, and those who are seeking to be evacuated. They all share harrowing experiences of being attacked, raped, and threatened by Taliban, Islamic State and bullying groups.

Yuval David is an innovative actor, host and filmmaker with a creative mantra to entertain, uplift and inspire. He is a captivating performer and compelling storyteller who uses his platform for sharing narratives that affect social change, specifically on behalf of highly respected U.S. and international organizations that raise awareness for the marginalized and under-represented, inspired by his LGBTQ+ and Jewish identity, and his Israeli-American roots.

He can be reached through social media

YouTube.com/YuvalDavid

Instagram.com/Yuval_David_

Facebook.com/YuvalDavid

Twitter.com/YuvalDavid

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