Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Republicans Play Deadly Game

Of Don’t Say Gay And Don’t Talk About Transgender

Angel Naira, Jenny De Leon, Jessi Hart, Jo Acker, Zoella Rose Martinez, Mel Groves, Briana Hamilton, Pooh Johnson, Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey “JJ” Bright and Jasmine Cannady.
These are a few of the real people who were murdered last year in the U.S. because they identified as transgender. Real people who are the victims of the embedded, ongoing, timeless persecution of the LGBTQ community which has taken on a new and more ominous turn among right wing politicians who are stoking the fires to appeal to their bases.
From Florida to Iowa, “woke” is the latest bogeyman of the Republican Party which considers it “woke” to provide equal protection to the LGBTQ community and the latest attacks promise to be more than symbolic. As Republican lawmakers appeal to their base to eliminate LGBTQ protections, transgender people are being killed in record numbers in the U.S. and worldwide.
And while certain high profile politicians, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivy are in the forefront, many other red states are also passing laws that bar transgender youths from joining school sports teams consistent with their gender identities. They have become law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The work of the elected officials is being done in conjunction with a large number of corporate and non-profit groups, many purporting to be religious organizations, that are fueling the fires of hate and discrimination under the guise of battling moral tyranny by the left.
Last year, 375 transgender or gender non-conforming people people were murdered worldwide and at least 57 in the U.S., the deadliest year since records began in 2008. And experts said the number is likely much, much higher because of the number of killings that go unreported.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQ advocacy group, reported that this year is on pace to be the deadliest on record for transgender and gender non-conforming Americans. Anti-transgender hate crimes increased significantly in 2020 for the second year in a row, according to an FBI report.
The organization, “Transrespect vs. Transphobia Worldwide,” reported that the majority of the murders around the world happened in Central and South America (70 percent), with the most deaths in a single country in Brazil, totaling a full third of all global killings. The report found that most victims were Black and migrant trans women of color and trans sex workers.
“While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color — particularly Black transgender women — and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities,” said a statement from the HRC.
The latest legislative volleys came in Alabama on Wednesday with a new law that forces teachers and counselors to out transgender students to their parents. The bill also could put doctors in prison for up to 10 years for prescribing puberty blockers or hormones to minors who identify as transgender. The bill also bans genital surgeries on minors, except for circumcision, and prohibits doctors from from performing surgeries that help minors transition.
According to the bill, nurses, counselors, teachers, principals, and school administrators at any public or private school in the state are forbidden from “[withholding] from a minor’s parent or legal guardian information related to a minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex.”
A second bill passed by the Senate prohibits any instruction on sexual orientation or gender in elementary school classrooms, similar to the recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.
“We just don’t think it’s appropriate to be talking about homosexuality and gender identity,” said State Sen. Shay Shelnutt, who previously has voted to make abortion a crime at any stage in a pregnancy, with no exemptions for cases of rape or incest and competed on an episode of Family Feud that aired Oct. 12, 2015. “You know, they should be talking about math, science [and] writing, especially in elementary school.”
Gov. Kay Ivey signed the various bills on Friday and said there was never any grey areas.
“I believe very strongly that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl,” Ivey said.

Regarding use of restrooms and locker rooms, Ivey was equally strident.
“Here in Alabama, men use the men’s room, and ladies use the ladies’ room — it’s really a no-brainer,” Ivey said.
Last year Ivey signed a law requiring all Alabama athletes in K-12 public schools to compete in sports based on the gender they were assigned at birth.
And while politicians in red states around the nation continue their onslaught against the LGBTQ community, various organizations have long been working to deprive LGBTQ people of rights and protections.
“Back to Neutral” is a new coalition with ties to anti-LGBTQ hate groups, that formed last December to press corporations to back off from actions that boost diversity. Groups involved in the coalition include Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Family Resource Council (FRC), which both depict LGBTQ people in dehumanizing ways or explicitly target them with discrimination, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
“Back to Neutral” also works closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a highly influential group of lawmakers and lobbyists which opposes corporations that act to diversify their leadership or take a public stance on social and democracy issues, the report said. ALEC has been a powerful force for implementing a right-wing and pro-corporate agenda throughout the country and has written model bills that have been passed in every state.
“Back to Neutral” has been calling on corporations and customers to channel donations to SPLC-designated hate groups, like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Family Resource Council. ADF has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people in other countries, claiming that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia.
FRC has made false claims about the LGBTQ community typically in support of its efforts against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The coalition said in a statement that its effort to “Stop Corporate Tyranny is a one-stop shop for educational resources exposing the Left’s nearly completed takeover of corporate America, along with resources and tools for everyday Americans to fight back against the Left’s woke and censoring mob in the corporate lane. Tactically, the Left is working top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in to craft culture to their liking at breakneck speeds.”
The coalition offers a speakers bureau from a variety of right wing conservative groups, including the likes of Jerry Bowyer of 60 Plus, William G. Boykin of Townhall, Justin Danhof of the Family Research Council, Kristen Eastlick of the National Center for Public Policy Research, Rick Manning of the Economic Warroom, Bob McEwen of Americans for Limited Government, Stephen Soukup of the National Center for Public Policy Research and others.
The Southern Poverty Law Center deems 27 groups as hate groups for their antagonism toward the LGBTQ community. They include: Abiding Truth Ministries, Alamo Christian Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, American Vision, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Atlah Worldwide Church, Center for Family and Human Rights, Chalcedon Foundation, Dove World Outreach Center, Faithful Word Baptist Church, Family Research Council, Family Research Institute, Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Counsel, MassResistance, Mission: America, Pacific Justice Institute, Parents Action League, Public Advocate of the United States, SaveCalifornia.com, Traditional Values Coalition, United Families International, Westboro Baptist Church, World Congress of Families and You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International.
Snapshots of a few of the hate groups includes:
Abiding Truth Ministries was founded in 1997 by Scott Lively, an author, lawyer and activist, and is now based in Springfield, Mass. Lively has called for the criminalization of “the public advocacy of homosexuality.” He co-authored a 2007 book, “The Pink Swastika,” which claims that “homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.”
The Alamo Christian Foundation is a cult founded in 1969 by Christian evangelist Tony Alamo and one of his wives, Susan Alamo. Tony Alamo was convicted of 10 child rape offenses in 2009 and he died in prison in May 2017.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, is a conservative Christian legal advocacy group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., with offices in Folsom, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Lawrenceville, Ga.; and New York. It is part of a global effort, Alliance Defending Freedom International, headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
The ADF is one of the most organized and influential Christian legal interest groups in the country and notables involved in past years include William Barr, the former U.S. Attorney General, who was honored with ADF’s annual “Edwin Meese III Award for Originalism and Religious Liberty.”
The current GOP senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley, was a law professor in 2013 at the University of Missouri, when he served as a faculty member for the “Blackstone Legal Fellowship.” The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is funded and organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom. In its brief on the ADF, the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that the organization’s global chapter has argued in favor of laws requiring mandatory sterilization for transgender people seeking to live as a gender other than that on their birth certificate.
Before she was named to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett was a paid speaker five times, starting in 2011, at the Blackstone Legal Fellowship programs.
Former Vice President Mike Pence launched his new organization, Advancing American Freedom, in April 2021 and named as a member of the organization’s advisory board Mike Farris, the president of Alliance Defending Freedom.
ADF opposes transgender rights based on an idea that “God creates each person with an immutable biological sex — male or female…” and the group has authored model legislation to restrict transgender people’s use of public bathrooms. The organization has worked to prevent transgender children from playing sports, through lawsuits and by lobbying state legislatures.
The American Family Association is a Christian fundamentalist organization that opposes LGBT rights and expression, pornography, and abortion. It was founded in 1977 by Donald Wildmon as the National Federation for Decency and is headquartered in Tupelo, Miss. Among its early actions, the National Federation for Decency boycotted Sears for sponsoring shows the organization had deemed anti-family, including “All in the Family,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Three’s Company.”
The American Family Association owns 200 American Family Radio stations in 33 states, seven affiliate stations in seven states, and one affiliate TV station (KAZQ) in New Mexico.
American Vision, a Christian ministry founded in 1978 by Steve Schiffman, calls for “equipping and empowering Christians to restore America’s biblical foundation.” The Southern Poverty Law Center designated American Vision as an anti-gay hate group because of its purported support of the “death penalty for practicing homosexuals.” In 2016, the new leadership backed away from this position, because “Biblical law has transferred First Table punishments from earthly civil governments to the throne of heaven.”
Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH) is an organization dedicated to “exposing the homosexual activist agenda.” The group believes that people can “leave the homosexual lifestyle.” The organization cites the discredited work of Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute who claimed that gays and lesbians live vastly shorter lives than heterosexuals.
ATLAH World Missionary Church, formerly Bethelite Missionary Baptist Church, is located in Harlem, N.Y. Messages on the the church letter board included anti-gay epithets and a Christian imperative to kill gay people by stoning. In early 2014, the church posted a series of messages on its letter board sign that asserted that Barack Obama is a Muslim and that he is not legally president.
The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) was founded in 1997 to affect policy debate at the United Nations and other international institutions. It was formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.
Dove World Outreach Center is a non-denominational charismatic Christian church led by pastor Terry Jones and his wife, Sylvia. The church first gained notice during the late 2000s for its public displays and criticism of Islam and gay people. After former President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, the church hanged an Obama effigy with a rainbow flag on its lawn.
Faithful Word Baptist Church is a fundamentalist independent Baptist church in Tempe, Ariz., that received national attention in 2009 when its pastor, Steven Anderson, said in a sermon that he was praying for the death of then-president Obama. Anderson also said that gays should be executed according to the “Law of Moses.”
Family Research Council (FRC) is an evangelical activist group formed in 1983 by author and psychologist, James Dobson. The council opposes and lobbies against access to pornography, embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, divorce and LGBT rights. The council has been accused of falsely conflating homosexuality and pedophilia and that children of same-sex parents suffer from more mental health problems.
The Family Research Institute (FRI), originally known as the Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality (ISIS), is non-profit organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., which supports research on issues that “threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse.”
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME), based in Downers Grove, Ill, was founded by Wayne Lela “to use science, logic, and natural law to expose all the flaws in the arguments homosexuals (and bisexuals) use to try to justify homosexual activity.” The group claims that if homosexuality remains legal, then “necrophilia and pedophilia may become legal activities.”
Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is known for engaging in inflammatory homophobic and anti-American pickets, as well as hate speech against atheists, Jews, Muslims, transgender people, and numerous Christian denominations.
“You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International,” founded in 2008 by Bradlee Dean, was a Christian youth ministry that held assemblies, music concerts and discussions with students in public schools. Dean, who also has a hard core, far right radio program, “The Sons of Liberty,” has said that he supports castration of gays because, he claims, that’s what the Founding Fathers wanted. Dean also reposts articles by anti-gay activist Theodore Shoebat who has called for a global “Inquisition” to eradicate homosexuality.
The proposed, federal Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. The act has been in legislative purgatory for several years.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The legislation also prohibits discrimination in public spaces and services and federally funded programs on the basis of sex.
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. President Biden issued an executive order directing agencies to interpret the Bostock ruling to apply not just to employment discrimination, but to other areas of law where sex discrimination is prohibited, including education, housing, and health care.
But as long as it is not a law, a future administration may interpret the Supreme Court ruling in other ways that would not fully enforce non-discrimination.
The Equality Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 18, 2021, by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and in the Senate on Feb. 23, 2021, by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. and Cory Booker, D-N.J. It passed in the House on Feb. 25, 2021, with a bipartisan vote of 224–206, but the bill has not been considered by the Senate.

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer