Monday, June 13, 2016

God, guns and gays: Politicians' sympathy stops short of support for non-discrimination

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 7:30 AM

HONK FOR DISCRIMINATION: Demonstrators were busy in Texarkana yesterday in support of repeal of an ordinance to provide some legal protections to LGBT people. - DENNIS YOUNG
  • Dennis Young
  • HONK FOR DISCRIMINATION: Demonstrators were busy in Texarkana yesterday in support of repeal of an ordinance to provide some legal protections to LGBT people.

The Orlando slaughter brought together three bedrock elements of recent Southern politics.

A man repelled by gay men — expressing allegiance to a fundamentalist faith — used legally obtained weapons (he also had a concealed carry permit) with enhanced killing power to shoot more than 100 people in an Orlando night club that caters to gay people. Fifty are dead.

Arguments about gun safety and the safety of welcoming immigrant Muslims — or Muslims at all — will proceed. But what about the third element of the God-guns-and-gays triad employed so often by politicians in Dixie (generally, but not exclusively, by Republicans and followers of fundamentalist religions)?

Gay people were targeted and killed. The New York Times reported, in addition to the gunman's quoted comments about abhorrence for public displays of affection by gays, that he'd tried to "friend" another gay club on Facebook. In California, fears were raised during this, Pride Month, about a heavily armed man stopped en route to a pride parade. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote that it is no time for identity politics, but he also observed:

The Islamic State and its ilk are brutal to gay people, whom they treat in unthinkable ways. They throw gay people from rooftops. The footage is posted online. It’s bloodcurdling, but it’s not unique. In countries throughout the world, to be gay is to be in mortal danger. To embrace love is to court death.

That’s crucial context for what happened in Orlando, and Orlando is an understandable prompt for questions about our own degrees of inclusion and fairness and whether we do all that we should to keep L.G.B.T. people safe. We don’t.

In the rote offerings of "thoughts and prayers" by the Arkansas governor and members of Congress, I saw condemnations of the Islamic state but no specific comfort or even acknowledgment of the special terror yesterday's event held for LGBT people. An example was a general sympathy statement from one politician, Sen. Tom Cotton, who'd once coldly said that gay people should get a grip because, after all, they execute gays in Iran. State Rep. Bob Ballinger wrote of the killer: "That evil man needed a good God who would have changed him into a person whose love forbids such evil acts." This from a man who's led the fight to preserve legal discrimination against gays in Arkansas statute books — in the name of HIS brand of religion.

Mark Joseph Stern observed in Slate, about anti-gay Republicans such as Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee (some truly awful stuff quoted) tweeting condolences:

Because the massacre appears to have targeted sexual minorities, this created a somewhat surreal effect: The sight of GOP politicians—some of the same ones who have devoted much of their careers fighting to deprive gays of their civil rights—sympathizing with the very people whom they have long bashed in a bid for conservative votes. 

...There are many more examples of aggressively anti-gay politicians tweeting about the Pulse shooting, but one common thread ties them together: None of them mention that the shooting targeted, or even involved, the LGBTQ community. Indeed, not a single congressional Republican who tweeted about the shooting mentioned LGBTQ people. That stands in stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s clear assertion that “shooter targeted a nightclub” where “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people “came together to be with friends, to dance, sing, and live,” and “to raise awareness and speak their minds and advocate for their civil rights.”
And then, coincidentally or not, there's Texarkana, where city voters will decide Tuesday, June 28 (not this week as I originally wrote) whether to repeal a nondiscrimination ordinance for the city government. It was passed unanimously by the City Council but critics petitioned for a referendum. Former state legislator Dennis Young provided commentary for the scene he photographed (above) yesterday in Texarkana:

Less than 24 hours following the tragic killings of over 50 members of the LGBT community in Orlando, FL, this is how one of the originators (and a couple of his goons) of the current attempt to repeal Ordinance M-130 (Texarkana, AR Anti-Discrimination Ordinance) are spending the early evening hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016 across from the Walmart SuperCenter on Arkansas Blvd. in Texarkana, AR. Sterling Lacy, a former Bowie County judge and a supposedly ordained minister (must be Minister of Hate), and an avowed member of the John Birch Society, was less than 50 feet away holding his own "Repeal M-130" sign as well as another one "selling signs for $5". The other originator of the petition drive to put this on the ballot (costing the city over $20,000) was Travis Story, the Northwest Arkansas attorney [partner of Bob Ballinger] who represents Josh Duggar, the admitted molester of young girls. He also was one of the leaders in the attempt to override the city of Fayetteville's anti-discrimination ordinance. Their advertising campaign started out as "keep men out of our daughter's bathrooms," but over the past couple of weeks, their campaign has begun to reflect their real anti-LGBT campaign. It is absolutely totally revolting that they are doing this at all, but certainly even more repugnant that this comes less than 24 hours of the worst mass murder in the history of our Country. God save our Country if people like these ever gain control !!
Thoughts and prayers, y'all.

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