The LGBT Movement Today

I watched some of the live stream from Unfinished Business: The Atlantic LGBT Summit held in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 11. A friend commented, “the identity politics—trans, bi, LGBT youth of color, why isn’t disability being discussed?—was too much for me.”

For me, as well.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s reporting at reason.com strikes the right notes about what she terms “an event filled with both thought-provoking speakers and brain-numbing PC platitudes.” For instance, on the panel discussion on legal barriers to transgender equality, she sums up:

Welcome to the minefield that is discussing LGBTIQ* issues circa 2015. By the time panelists had sorted out who was micro- or macro-agressing against whom, there was little time left for the planned topic of the panel, trans civil rights. (Unless the right to be on an Atlantic panel is at the forefront of the trans agenda.)

* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning

On the issue of whether the LGBT movement should allow tolerance for religious dissent, Brown writes:

Those who stuck out most during the day’s sessions were figures like David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, and writer and pundit Andrew Sullivan. Boaz and Sullivan are both gay and have long histories of gay-rights activism. But their belief in religious freedom set them apart from most of the crowd and speakers gathered yesterday. One of the biggest cheers of the day, in fact, came after an audience member accused Boaz of being “on the wrong side of history.”

As I’ve said and others have noted, progressive activists believe that nondiscrimination supersedes all other constitutional liberties (here’s an example in a different context, regarding Title IX and freedom of speech). The summit showed the strident opposition to the suggestion that there is a liberty right not to be forced to provide services to same-sex weddings when doing so violates religious belief, or even a positive value is showing tolerance for religious dissent by a small number of service providers.

Brown notes that “the historic alliance between libertarians and the LGBT community when it comes to political activism” is pretty much over, as “the area of common ground seems to be shrinking.” Hard to argue with that.

More. A positive development on the LGBT front! As the New York Times reports:

In a surprise announcement, the Empire State Pride Agenda, a leading state group that advocates gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in New York, will disband next year, citing the fulfillment of a 25-year campaign for equality.

Having secured marriage equality in New York before the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, and with broad nondiscrimination measures in place that include transgender men and women, it was mission accomplished. But, as the Times also notes:

State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, seemed shocked by the news. “There’s a lot more work to be done on L.G.B.T. rights in New York, so declaring ‘Mission Accomplished’ seems premature,” he said, noting that his legislative chamber had not passed a “single piece of L.G.B.T. legislation” since 2011. “I hope a new political group picks up the mantle,” he added.

The gay equality agenda may be met, but hey, there’s lots of progressive policies to coral LGBT support behind, not to mention embedding LGBT lobbies into the identity politics spoils system!

GOP Trumped

I fervently hope Donald Trump isn’t the GOP nominee, but it says a great deal about the state of the union that he so far seems unstoppable. Given the Democratic alternative, it’s a depressing campaign season indeed.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Aaron Zitner and Dante Chinni, in Donald Trump Forges New Blue-Collar Coalition Among Republicans (subscriber firewalled), shed some light on the predicament:

Mr. Trump’s appeal is a form of secular populism rarely seen in Republican primary races, and one he is pressing in part with appearances in working-class communities in Iowa that include independent voters and even Democrats who may be lured into the caucuses. …

Past nominating contests have often boiled down to two-person races in which an establishment-backed front-runner beats a socially conservative candidate who appeals to working-class voters—a role Rick Santorum filled in 2012, as did Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Pat Buchanan in 1996. Now, Mr. Trump appears to be opening a new, third lane in the GOP, drawing on a large share of voters who don’t have a college degree and don’t identify strongly with the party’s touchstone social issues, such as opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage.

That raises the prospect that the 2016 contest could narrow to a three-person race featuring the leading choice of social conservatives, the top pick of the party’s establishment wing of centrists and business-friendly Republicans—and Mr. Trump.

Gay-baiting isn’t among Trump’s fascistic tendencies. He is not a social conservative. He’s not much of an economic conservative, either. He favors the crony capitalism that made him rich. He is, instead, a populist demagogue.

What Trump will mean to the future configuration of the GOP is yet to be determined.

More. Via LCR:

Log Cabin Republicans remains committed to the eradication of radical Islamic extremism and believes it poses an existential threat to our culture and members of the LGBT community in particular, but inciting the politics of fear will not achieve those ends.

Plus this observation:

Considering Mr. Trump’s insistence that pursuit of a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality is futile as it would never be realized, we hope he likewise comprehends that his position advocating a carte-blanche ban on Muslim immigrants is equally fanciful.

As others have pointed out, on LGBT equality issues, Cruz and Rubio (among the main contenders) are far worse.

Meanwhile, how Hillary Clinton is bringing the nation together, as usual. Like Obama, her ire is most provoked by the one true enemy, Republicans.

OK, there is some justification if she were addressing Cruz, Carson and Huckabee, but no, not Bush, Kasich, Paul, Christie or (on Muslims) Rubio. Her partisan hyperbole is red meat for the base, and not what the country needs.

A Better Response to Attack Ads

Houston Mayor Annise Parker commented recently on the defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. As reported by the Washington Blade:

After the defeat of the ordinance, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin told the Blade LGBT advocates should call on TV stations not to run anti-trans ads like the kind seen in Houston, an idea Parker said she endorses. “I think there should be a certain level of social responsibility because while they were horrific ads, they were clearly fear-mongering and deliberate lies,” Parker said.

Anyone is free to organize protests and otherwise make their views known to the media. The problem is that almost all political ads are seen as “unfair”—by the other side. And often, that’s exactly what they are—remember those Democratic ads showing Republicans rolling grandma in her wheelchair over the cliff by supporting Medicare reform.

The Houston ads against the ordinance, raising the spectre of threatening “men” (instead of transgender women) using women’s restrooms, are only more so.

But if the best response advocates of anti-discrimination measures can propose is to pressure TV stations not to run opposition ads, that’s a rather stark admission that they can’t mount an effective counter-argument and organize effectively to get their message out. And that raises comparisons to the recent wave of campus protests that seek to forbid speech that progressives view as advocating incorrect views. It’s all of a piece of the new illiberal intolerance.

More. Mark Lee writes in the Washington Blade:

That whooshing sound you may have heard when reading Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson’s interview last month with Chad Griffin was likely the air being sucked out of the room due to gasps by First Amendment adherents. The Human Rights Campaign president offered a shockingly stark strategy for avoiding future ballot defeats on nondiscrimination measures such as the recent loss in Houston.

“In politics, there’s often two sides to a debate,” Griffin acknowledged, before dissecting the degree of debate he would tolerate. “There’s also right and wrong, and there’s lies, and there’s defamation of an entire population of people. And that’s what happened in Houston. And so, I am hopeful that in the go-forward we as a community, as an organization, local campaigns can be more aggressive with station managers, quite frankly.” Griffin’s “solution” to losing seems to be roughing-up news stations running opposition ads or reporting on opponent positions, rather than winning hearts and minds. Sort of similar to something Donald Trump might say.

We are collectively losing sight of the fact that the defense of liberty and free speech only matters when protecting the right to expression of unpopular opinion.

Slandering DeMaoi Worked

Via NBC-San Diego, DeMaio Accuser Sentenced for Obstructing Justice:

A former aide to Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio was sentenced to five years of probation Monday for using a phony email account to make it appear DeMaio or one of his associates threatened him.

The presiding judge said the slanders “definitely played a role” in DeMaio’s defeat.

LGBT progressives championed the (false) accusations that sunk Carl’s congressional campaign (he had been leading in the polls beforehand). I, however, was skeptical. As you may note, commenters on that thread were not.

Glenn Reynolds at instapundit: “I’m cynical enough to think that if he’d done this to a Democrat, he would have been punished more severely.”

Syrian Refugees and the Gay Question

Via the Washington Blade:

Despite anger with three gay and bisexual U.S. House members for voting with Republicans to block Syrian refugees from entering the United States, the head of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund says the organization won’t drop support for the lawmakers in the upcoming election.

Well, that’s big of her.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay; Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who’s gay, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who’s bisexual, were among the 47 House Democrats who voted for the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, or H.R. 4038, which passed the Republican-controlled U.S. House last week. The bill would expand background checks on Iraqi and Syrian refugees hoping to enter the United States, but critics say the legislation would have the effect of barring them entirely.

So, the lead is actually misleading, since the measure will only “block Syrian refugees from entering the United States” if you uncritically accept the critics’ viewpoint.

Some LGBT advocates rebuked Polis, Maloney and Sinema for their “yes” votes, arguing members of the LGBT community should support another community facing persecution. Among those critics is Michelangelo Signorile, a New York-based LGBT advocate who said on his Facebook page the votes are “totally shameful” and the Victory Fund “should dump” the three lawmakers.

“Equality should be litmus test of anyone in ‘LGBT Equality Caucus’ in Congress,” Signorile said. “And realize that these individuals voted against desperate LGBT Syrian refugees — there was hope 500 of the refugee spaces would be set aside for them.”

What universe do LGBT progressives like Signorile live in that they seriously think 500 spots were going to be designated for LGBT Syrian refugees?

The debate of refugee acceptance isn’t black and white, and that’s especially true regarding disagreements about the level of scrutiny refugees should undergo. Also, polls have shown that immigrants from Muslim countries are heavily homophobic in their attitudes—that’s simply a fact, as noted here, and here, for instance.

That’s not to say the U.S. shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees, but the issue isn’t as simplistic as demagogues on both the progressive left and the anti-immigrant right are convinced it is.

More. As a coda, the Washington Post reports Gay asylum seekers face threat from fellow refugees in Europe:

What followed over the next several weeks, though, was abuse — both verbal and physical — from other refugees, including an attempt to burn Ktifan’s feet in the middle of the night. The harassment ultimately became so severe that he and two other openly gay asylum seekers were removed from the refugee center with the aid of a local gay activist group and placed in separate accommodations across town..

Massachusetts’ LGBT Contracting Set-Asides

Remember when LGBT activists said they only wanted equality, not special treatment. They don’t, either.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order to add LGBT-owned businesses to a diversity program under which a percentage of state contracts is set aside for minority-owned businesses. That is, of course, a way of ensuring preferential treatment in government contracting for businesses not owned (officially) by straight white men.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, blogs:

I wonder: How will anyone know whether a business owner is bisexual? Do you have to say that you’ve had sex with members of the same sex? What if you just say that you’re attracted to members of the same sex? Or is the state relying on the assumption that non-bisexuals would be reluctant to label themselves bisexual, even when that helps them get valuable contracts, for fear that the label will come out to their friends (or to other prospective business partners who discriminate against bisexuals rather than in favor of them)?

And one of his blog commenters asked,”Is there evidence that well-qualified LGBT-owned businesses have been historically disadvantaged in MA government contracting?”

It’s all politics and pandering, of course, and who has got the power now, baby.

More on Campus Anti-Speech Activism

Since I raised the “Stonewall” movie fracas in the post below on transgender activism, I’m bumping up the following, which I had added to an earlier post on the progressive campus anti-speech movement.

Robby Soave writes at reason.com, citing Colorado College’s student newspaper, The Catalyst, that LGBT student activists at the college declared that the movie “Stonewall” was too offensive to be shown on campus by the college’s Film and Media Studies Department, which wanted to moderate a discussion about the controversy. Instead, the students demanded that the administration cancel the upcoming screening.

“I think Colorado College should cancel the screening because the safety and well-being of queer and trans students surpasses the importance of a critical discussion,” one student told The Catalyst. Said another: “If CC is really as dedicated to diversity and inclusion, they would never have agreed to screen a film that queer students have repeatedly stated is a threat to our identity and our safety. … It is fallacious to equate the rights of students to view a movie with the rights of students to exist free of violence.”

Soave comments regarding the students’ response to the film, directed by openly gay filmmaker Roland Emmerich, which positively depicts gay people fighting for equality in 1969:

That’s right: the film isn’t merely offensive to gay and trans students (despite having a truly gay-affirming message), it’s actively dangerous to their physical well-being…. This is a complaint emotionally-coddled students often make: that some kind of expression is so triggering that allowing it to proceed constitutes an act of violence. Such complaints are usually pure hyperbole, but hyperbole doesn’t even begin to cover the opinions of Colorado College’s precious snowflakes.

Also, here’s a link to James Kirchick’s piece on the Yale insanity:

If the administration is truly committed to equipping young people for the real world and not a chimerical fantasyland where they never have to hear something disagreeable, the best thing it could do, both for their sake and Yale’s sacred mission, is tell them to grow up.

And another fine piece by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, The New Intolerance of Student Activism:

They see anything short of a confession of wrongdoing as unacceptable. In their view, one respects students by validating their subjective feelings. Notice that the student position allows no room for civil disagreement. Given this set of assumptions, perhaps it is no surprise that the students behave like bullies even as they see themselves as victims.

From FrontPageMag.com:

Crybullies are everything they claim to abhor. They are narcissists who complain about selfishness. Completely incapable of human empathy, they whine that no one cares about their feelings. They are prone to cowardly acts of violence, but demand safe spaces. They are bullies who say they’re bullied.

The crybully embodies the left. He is an oppressed oppressor. An abusive victim. A self-righteous hypocrite. A loudmouth censor. A civil rights activist who wants to take everyone’s rights away.

Much of that description also fits the heroes of progressivism who use the power of the state to force small, religiously conservative business owners to provide services to same-sex weddings, and destroy their businesses if they refuse (and threaten them with financial ruin, and jail). It’s all of a piece.

More. The Vice President of the University of Missouri Student Association, via MSNBC: “I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment.”

Progressive students are flooding out of the closet—as the authoritarians we’ve always known them to be. Their older mentors should be as honest about their intentions.

Fortunately, some students get it. Via the Harvard Law Record: Fascism at Yale. Yes, let’s call the progressive students’ political beliefs by its right name.

Proving the point: Amherst Activists Demand Re-Education for Students Who Celebrated Free Speech. A coalition of campus progressive groups declared that a poster celebrating the First Amendment was “racially insensitive” and requires “extensive training for racial and cultural competency.”

The list of signatories at Amherst includes Purple Pride, Pride Alliance, Queer Resource Center, and TransActive. Because, you know, what has free speech ever done for gay people.

Finally, Walter Olson’s Campus expression roundup for the week, at Overlaywered.com.

Debating the “T”

The Federalist looks at the increasingly uncomfortable amalgamation of LGB and T, by way of an interview with a gay man who posted a change.org petition to “drop the T.” It won’t happen, of course, but the interview raises some interesting points. The petitioner (he asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the trans movement) notes, for instance:

To me, the LGB movement, with its celebration of all types of gay men and women, such as bears, leather daddies, drag queens, diesel dykes, lipstick lesbians, etc., has always been about expanding and re-defining concepts of gender; the trans movement, on the other hand, appears to be about re-asserting and codifying traditional concepts of gender.

The initial discussion is about the Stonewall narrative, and interviewer David Marcus asks:

I was at the Stonewall twenty-fifth anniversary march in 1994, and at that time we all thought we had a pretty good idea of what had happened at Stonewall. The Stonewall veterans— mostly gay, white men—were viewed as heroic. In the new version of events, the gay, white men at the riot are presented as weak followers, not primary actors. Why do you think so many established gay outlets have so easily accepted this narrative that echoes some of the worst stereotypes about gay men?

To which the petitioner replies:

I think there’s a general desire to find heroes in the past that aren’t the usual white guy, and I understand that completely, as a gay kid looking to find gay heroes in a heteronormative history myself. But you can’t alter history to make you feel better, and doing so by twisting a narrative so that heroic men become weak, dithering non-actors in an event is disrespectful to them and ultimately to yourself.

More. David Marcus has more to say at The Federalist website, Gay Versus Trans Bar Fight Breaks Out Over ‘Stonewall’:

Consider the accounts of the white, gay men interviewed for an AARP video celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall. They are quite clear about what led them to riot. It wasn’t the actions of the small number of transvestites that led them to fight back. It was the actions of the police, the frustration of being left behind in a nation that was slowly embracing civil rights. It was the moment when they refused to be cowed by a culture that condemned the very essence of who they were.

Let us be clear that those who accuse “Stonewall,” the movie, of whitewashing and cis-washing the events of that night are calling these men liars.

Backlash in Houston

Voters in Houston soundly defeated the proposed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which would have broadly expanded LGBT (and other) anti-discrimination protections, with 39 percent voting “yes” and 61 percent saying “no.”

The measure would have prohibited bias in housing, employment, city contracting and business services for 15 protected classes, including race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. But, as the Texas Tribune reports, opponents successfully framed the measure as a “bathroom ordinance,” since it presumably would have allowed transgender individuals who have not undergone gender reassignment surgery to use the public restrooms that they felt were appropriate to their gender identity, which transgender people often point to as a challenge. That opened the door for this:

Outside of polling places, signs read “NO Men in Women’s Bathrooms.” And television ads bankrolled by opponents depicted a young girl being followed into a bathroom stall by a mysterious older man.

The challenges faced by transgender people are great, and restroom accommodation is among them. Since people don’t typically walk around public restrooms naked (and they do have stalls, after all), the opposition seems on the hysterical side, but it was obviously effective.

On the other hand, there are cases involving locker rooms where people do get naked, which raise more difficult issues. This week, for instance, the U.S. Department of Education found that a Chicago suburban high school district discriminated against a transgender student who has not undergone gender reassignment surgery, and gave the school a month to provide her with full access to girls’ locker rooms or lose federal funding.

The school district had “provided the student with a separate changing facility outside the locker room and installed privacy curtains on stalls in one locker room out of the three that she uses for physical education, swimming and athletics programs, according to the federal government’s findings.” No matter; the ACLU and transgender activists considered that accommodation separate and unequal (because the race analogy applies to everything) and sued.

This is not an isolated case; other transgender suits have involved swimming pool locker rooms and saunas. But the focus here on mixed-anatomy nudity among public school minors seems particularly incendiary.

When gender identity and physical anatomy conflict, pushing the fight to nudity in locker rooms—including in high schools—is the kind of tactic that provokes a broader backlash under which reasonable demands get lumped and fought.

Might it be, in fact, a reasonable compromise for those who are transgender but have not made a full transition to use gender-neutral single facilities for changing and showering?

More. The Washington Post on Why Houston’s gay rights ordinance failed:

But as much as HERO’s proponents decried the vote, the proposition was rejected by a decisive majority of the citizens of the nation’s fourth-largest city. Turnout was strong among white conservatives and African Americans — demographics likely to oppose the measure….

Many in the protected classes under the ordinance, including race and age, are already covered by federal anti-discrimination laws. LGB&Ts are not.

This helped opponents characterize the bill as if it were just about transgender bathroom use. And that, I believe, was itself an encapsulation of pent-up reaction to a range of LGBT advances, from the legal recognition of same-sex marriage to the perceived persecution of conservative Christian small business owners who don’t want to provide services to same-sex weddings.

Furethermore. I usually agree with columnist Steve Chapman, but he comes down on the other side of the locker room controversy, writing:

What does that leave? Either treating Student A as a girl for all purposes, as the government insists, or for all purposes but one, as the school district has chosen….

If the district is serious about privacy, it can offer more spaces that cater to the needs of modesty. It might also post signs stating a locker room rule that most kids already know: Keep your eyes to yourself.

Maybe that works in some places (Chapman cites, approvingly, a local newspaper’s survey of students at two suburban Chicago high schools), but there are times when penises in the girls’ locker room (or womens’ locker rooms, regarding public pools and saunas) is going to be a legitimate issue, and not just among “bigots.”

And certainly a political issue. Via the conservative Weekly Standard:

There is a lesson in this, especially for Republicans. The left is in the process of overreaching on an issue that the average voter cares about, deeply. People might be able to rationalize supporting same-sex marriage by telling themselves that, even if it’s not their thing, it makes no difference to them what gay couples do. But if you’re a woman using the locker room at the gym, it might matter quite a lot if a man who says he’s a woman on the inside is using the shower next to you. …

We have reached a bizarre moment in our politics, where the “progressive” left resists having conservative speakers on a college campus because they make students feel “unsafe,” but insists that boys who identify as girls be allowed to shower with girls in the public schools, and misgivings must be educated away, or litigated into submission.

And from The Federalist:

When liberal Houston — a city with a three-term lesbian mayor — overwhelming rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance for the transgendered (among others), a hysterical New York Times editorial accused voters of being transphobic hate mongers with blood on their hands.

Boycott Houston!

Bakers, Caterers…and Printers

If, as LGBT activists believe, bakers and caterers (and photographers and wedding planners) must take all assignments, even those they find morally disagreeable, is the same true of printers?

As the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro writes on the Cato at Liberty blog:

Hands On Originals, a t-shirt printing company in Kentucky, refused to print t-shirts promoting a gay-pride event, the Lexington Pride Festival. Its owners weren’t objecting to any customers’ sexual orientation; instead, they objected only to the ideological message conveyed by the shirts.

The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization nevertheless filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission under an antidiscrimination ordinance that bans public accommodations from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation.

While the Commission ruled against the printers, the state district court reversed on free speech and free exercise grounds. The case is now before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where Cato filed an amicus brief.

The case raises a number of interesting parallels: should a gay printer be forced to print anti-gay Christian Reconstructionist literature? Should a Jewish printer be forced to publish anti-Semitic tracts?

While some LGBT advocates of the “they will now do our bidding” school would probably argue No (see, completely different, no comparison whatsoever), others who are more honest might say Yes, since business providers have no right to accept or reject any job they are offered. As Cato’s Walter Olson noted, “Many advocates of the anti-discrimination principle appear to believe that it trumps virtually any other liberty or value.”

More. The Washington Examiner reports this week, citing research by the Barna Group:

…the percentage of all millennials who are “very concerned” about additional restrictions on religious freedoms in the next five years has increased 10 percentage points since 2012, to 25 percent.

In August, the Examiner cited research by Caddell Associates, which found that:

Americans reacting to the Supreme Court’s approval of same sex marriage desire a truce between religious freedom and gay rights, but if pushed, overwhelmingly side with protecting the liberty of their faith by a margin of 4 to 1, according to a new national survey.

The degree of their fierce support for religious freedom and liberty jumps when given this choice: “Suppose a Christian wedding photographer has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same sex marriage. If a same sex couple wanted to hire the photographer for their wedding, should the photographer have the right to say no?”

A huge 82 percent said yes.

Given the backlash against high-handed political correctness that’s gaining steam, these findings should be a warning to the “they will now do our bidding” school of activism.