Last weekend, the Texas Republican Party voted on an outrageous platform that not only denies the results of the 2020 presidential election, but also rejects same-sex marriage and seeks to “protect” minors until the age of 17 against “predatory sexual behavior”, such as drag queens reading stories aloud to children.
Drag queens are predators, trans women are a threat, and same-sex marriage is a violation of the “natural order” decision in Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage.
The decision was heralded as a major civil rights victory by its supporters, but many gay rights opponents viewed it as a losing battle in a war, not a loss. of the war. For them, same-sex marriage is too important a development to simply accept.
Dennis Prager, writing in National Review, argued that the decision completed “America’s secularization” and sealed “the end of America as envisioned by the Founders”.
Mitch McConnell, then Senate Majority Leader, was a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage. He was one of six Republican senators to sign an amicus brief in an attempt to convince the court to reject it. But after the ruling, even he acknowledged there was little more Congress could do. “The courts have spoken pretty well,” he said.
But opponents of gay rights would not stop there. There were other avenues of oppression: the presidency, the states, and the composition of the court itself.
In 2016, Donald Trump was elected. Although he disavowed the violence at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, vowing to protect the LGBTQ community from “violence and oppression”, openly courting gay donors like Peter Thiel and later calling same-sex marriage the law established, he would continue to take unprecedented measures. measures “to undermine and eliminate rights protecting LGBTQ people,” as Alphonso David, then president of the Human Rights Campaign, put it in 2020.
Among Trump’s extensive list of transgressions against gay people were his administration’s attempts to literally erase them by trying to block new sexual orientation questions from the census and trying to define transgender people out of existence, proposing to “define sex as male or female, unchangeable and determined by the genitalia a person is born with,” according to the New York Times.
Then there was the Supreme Court itself. Shortly after sanctioning same-sex marriage, 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared that “the Supreme Court can no more strike down the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than the law of gravity”. He warned, “The only outcome worse than this misguided and failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two equal branches of government, to surrender to this uncontrollable act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.
It was clear that the fight had only just begun.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, put it this way: “The idea of the Constitution” was to remove certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles. to be enforced by the courts,” quoting former Justice Robert Jackson.
Opponents of gay rights saw it as a legal overstepping. And now Kennedy has been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, who declined during his confirmation hearing to say whether he thought the same-sex marriage case was properly decided. Amy Coney Barrett also joined the court, replacing another judge who was in the majority of same-sex marriages: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At a 2016 conference, Barrett appeared to defend dissenting judges in the same-sex marriage case and questioned whether it was up to the court to decide issues such as which toilets transgender people should be allowed to use. .
Around this time, Republican state legislators were introducing a number of toilet bills, a first step in their drive to oppress gay people. Then came a series of state laws preventing transgender women and girls from participating in women’s school sports.
These attacks were never going to stay focused only on trans people. (Even if they did, it would still be a horrific attack on human rights.) Now we are seeing the inevitable result, as Republican lawmakers expand the attacks on homosexuality itself.
This year alone, we’ve seen Florida pass its “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Make no mistake, this is all part of a renewed and widespread attack on gay rights and gay culture, to curb the rise of young people coming out. And if you think a right once established by the court cannot be overturned by the court, look no further than the court’s pending abortion ruling.
There is no end in the battle for civil rights. Victories don’t stay won. They must be defended and can sometimes be knocked down.
Republicans may not be able to push people back into the closet, but they can try to reinstate some stigma to keep them from coming out in the first place and build them – us – cultural gay ghettos if we do .