September 23, 2020 at 9:01 pm PDT | by Troy Masters Brody Levesque
A suddenly perilous moment for LGBTQ rights requires action

LOS ANGELES – During an engagement with reporters in the West Wing cabinet room Wednesday afternoon, after being asked about the election and also his pick for a nominee to replace the late Associate U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump said: “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court- I think it’s very important that we have nine Justices. I think the system is going to go very quickly. I’ll be submitting at 5 o’clock on Saturday, the name of the person I chose for this most important of positions.”

There’s been a plethora of alarmist rhetoric on all social media platforms and in most queer media outlets generally warning that a Trump second term will end LGBTQ rights as the legal arguments put forth by the anti-LGBTQ organisations, law firms, and politicians for “religious liberties,” will be advanced and onto a Supreme Court that is likely going to sign off on them.

In regards to the court? Trump’s choice will now become a reality thanks to the hypocrisy and corruption of Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell. Once Senator Mitt Romney declared Tuesday his support of his party’s efforts to secure Trump’s nominee regardless of who that person was, the math was entirely in McConnell’s favor.

The damages to LGBTQ rights will likely not be readily apparent although there are cases pending in the Fall term where the ‘religious liberties’ arguments will play a major role. Trump’s top two choices? A brief synopsis as provided by the Human Rights Campaign:

Seventh Circuit U.S. Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the odds on favorite to be nominated by Trump. Barrett’s history tells a story of anti-LGBTQ ideology, opposing basic rights thought to be settled law, and an anti-choice ideology out of step with popular opinion.

She defended the Supreme Court’s dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges, questioning the role of the court in deciding the case.

She says Title IX protections do not extend to transgender Americans, claiming it’s a “strain on the text” to reach that interpretation.

She misgendered transgender people, referring to a transgender women as “physiological males,” while casting doubt on transgender rights.

Barrett has consistently demonstrated opposition to reproductive rights. She called Roe an “erroneous decision” and a “dramatic shift.”

She refused to rehear a racial segregation case, raising concerns about her approach to Civil Rights issues.

Trump’s other leading choice is in many ways worse. Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Allison Jones Rushing’s long, close affiliation with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, proves she will be anything but impartial when judging cases with LGBTQ parties or about LGBTQ rights.

Rushing justified the Defense Against Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Jones Rushing worked at the Alliance Defending Freedom and returned to the organization multiple times as a panelist and speaker.

To footnote Rushing’s ADF connection, ADF believes in the re-criminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and across the globe. In a 2003 amicus brief in landmark LGBTQ equality case Lawrence v. Texas, ADF stated: “Defining the criminality of certain forms of sexual conduct…is a policy issue that has historically and properly been left to the state legislatures.”

Over the last decade, ADF has praised court decisions criminalizing sodomy and supporting criminalization efforts in India, Jamaica and Belize. In Belize and India, same-sex activity was worth a 10-year stint in jail.

The Trump-Pence administration allegedly has a program aimed at decriminalizing homosexuality across the globe, but there has been no concrete action other than officials saying it exists.

Tragically for women’s reproductive rights and as well the entire LGBTQ community one of the two of these anti-LGBTQ women is now guaranteed a spot on the nation’s highest court.

But beyond the court and past the fact that the Trump administration has targeted Trans military personnel, rolled back protections for healthcare for Trans people as well as other protections for the LGB people in the United States there is the greater danger.

During the Wednesday evening press briefing this alarming exchange occurred:

Reporter: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?”

President Trump: “We’re going to have to see what happens.”

He then followed up with “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”

There is a pile-on. He’s not going to honour two centuries of peaceful and democratic transition. He has a corrupt hand picked Postmaster General who has ensured that chaos will take place over the next two months by crippling postal operations. He has an Attorney General at his beck and call to keep him in power by attempting to disenfranchise not only American voters but the Congress itself simply by ignoring the very document he has sworn to protect.

Worse- he has total Republican support in both Houses but importantly in the Senate. He has now packed the highest court and actually numerous other lower courts with judges who reek of that peculiar brand of conservatism espoused by christian extremists in right wing circles. Many who are flat out racist and xenophobic let alone homo/Transphobic.

His incompetency has directly resulted in 200,000 Americans needlessly losing their lives to the coronavirus. He has disparaged Jewish Americans, Black Americans, called American veterans and deceased service members losers.

There’s virtually no bar to how low this mafioso masquerading as the President of the United States will go.

Everyone who reads this has heard the phrase “Elections Matter.” We would argue that this country and our state is beyond that point- ‘This election is critical.’

Trump was here at the beginning of the month to see first hand the massive damages wrought by the wildfires that have burned over 2 million acres and sent so many pollutants into the air that it is dangerous to breath causing Air Quality Index warnings to be issued daily across the state and here in LA County especially. As he was being briefed he literally argued that climate change was not real.

There are business failures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic including some in West Hollywood much beloved by the LGBTQ community. Trump’s incompetent management of this crisis which is now cranking up for another surge is directly responsible.

We could on, but to the larger point- every reader of this editorial, every member of the greater LGBTQ community must work to restore a sense of decent and transparent government for the American nation or the results of another Trump election to another term in office would plunge the country into a chaos that frankly looks to be violent as well as economically devastating.

Your vote matters, your vote counts, your voice needs to be heard. If you have not registered to vote you have until October 19.

Troy Masters is the publisher of the Los Angeles Blade and Brody Levesque is the Blade’s Editor-at-Large.

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