What a difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago, we were preparing for the city’s annual Pride celebration and marking 50 years since Stonewall with parades, galas and Madonna performing in New York City. At the Blade, we were also celebrating 50 years since the newspaper’s founding in 1969.
A year later, more than 100,000 Americans are dead of coronavirus, a pandemic that brought the world to a standstill. Unemployment is at Great Depression-era levels. Small businesses everywhere are hanging on by a thread. Police brutality against black citizens continues, triggering mass protests after George Floyd was murdered by a cop on video. And the president of the United States, hiding in a bunker and surrounded by fences, turns law enforcement officials against his own people, gassing peaceful demonstrators in service of a clumsy, cheesy photo op.
We are living through unprecedented times. As we reflect on Pride this week, we should remember that our own modern movement for equality began as a protest against police violence and raids on our bars. I can think of no better tribute to Pride than joining the movement for racial equality and the protests against police brutality and racism.
As the peaceful protests continued this weekend in communities large and small and in countries around the world, many asked what’s next for the movement. Many ideas are being floated, from investing more in mental health to outright defunding police departments. But one thing we should all agree on: On Nov. 3, we must clean house of the Republican Party and send not just Donald Trump packing, but all of his enablers in Congress who have turned a blind eye to this president’s criminal abuse of power, his cruelty, and his tactic of dividing the American people at a perilous time.
Trump didn’t create the coronavirus, but his incompetent response and delayed action unnecessarily cost thousands of American lives. Trump didn’t create racism or police brutality, but his heartless and cowardly response to Floyd’s murder served to exacerbate the exploding tensions. At a time when the country needed unity, our president doubled down on division and used the Bible as a prop to excite his shrinking base.
The time is now for Republicans everywhere to earn an ounce of redemption by condemning Trump, endorsing Joe Biden and actively campaigning for him. We don’t need coy innuendo from George W. and Laura Bush, who have issued vague statements hinting they won’t vote for Trump. They should publicly endorse Biden and then actively campaign all over Texas for his election. Polls show that Texas may be winnable for Biden. Imagine if the Bushes spent the summer crisscrossing the state for him. That may be a pipedream, but imagine.
The same is true of congressional Republicans who have cowered in fear of Trump’s twitter attacks and enabled this madness. The cracks are starting to appear, as Sen. Mitt Romney declared this weekend, “Black Lives Matter.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, too, is hinting that she will oppose Trump’s re-election.
Polls show that Sen. Lindsay Graham, a target this weekend of sex worker tweets alleging all sorts of things that have long been rumored about his sexual orientation, is vulnerable in South Carolina. He must go, along with the ultimate toadie, Sen. Mitch McConnell.
They and so many other Republicans have shirked their responsibility to the Constitution in service of a racist, sexist fake president.
So in honor of Pride, LGBTQ Americans should resolve to vote in November and to protest against racism and police brutality. Let’s look forward to an unprecedented celebration next year of a new, pro-equality president, a favorable Supreme Court ruling expected any day now on LGBTQ workplace rights, and the sight of Donald Trump being led away in handcuffs.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at email@example.com.
Photo: Protesters at a Black Lives Matter demonstration on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)