By Kae Dickinson
I woke up today and cried for my children. You see I have a transgender gay son and a lesbian daughter, both are teenagers. I cried because I see the big picture of their future in this country and it is one where they will have to hide who they are and who they love.
Kansas Governor Brownback is to be nominated Ambassador for Religious Freedom.
Yesterday, while everyone was focused on the tweet from our President dehumanizing our transgender military personnel, the DOJ was arguing in a brief that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t cover “homosexuals”. Oh and let’s not forget that Kansas Governor Brownback is to be nominated Ambassador for Religious Freedom. (Read about Brownback )
What does this all mean? It means that our democracy that, “was for the people and of the people,” is headed towards a form of dictatorship. Please don’t be naïve and think, “Our system of government prevents that through checks and balances.” That may have been true at one point, but it is not true anymore. Through gerrymandering, the extreme bias of our news, and the refusal of our elected officials to do their jobs, we are no longer in control of our government. Remember, we now have an extreme far-right Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, serving a lifetime appointment and any day we could see a similar appointment if another justice retires.
That makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will side with the Department of Justice in their argument that sexual orientation is not covered by The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and those protections only extend to matters of race, color, religion, sex or nationality. This means if an employer, using the Religious Freedom Act, can fire an employee if their lifestyle violates the company’s or employers religious beliefs - no matter what they may be.
The issues at hand extend further than LGTB issues. Consider now the repeal of Roe v. Wade, reversal of the Marriage Equality, and other freedoms we have fought so hard to achieve. Do not forget about the 2003 ruling that invalidated states sodomy laws, which made being gay illegal. This is how far we have come over decades of struggle and where we could end up again in a matter of days.
We are headed to a society that if you aren’t white, upper middle class, straight, cis-gender and Christian, then you do not matter.
We are headed to a society that if you aren’t white, upper middle class, straight, cis-gender and Christian, then you do not matter. We see it our court rooms when judges give white rapists like Brock Turner a 6 month sentence, but an African American woman, like Julie Franklin, gets life for her first drug offense. We see it when the poor are blamed for being poor even though the minimum wage hasn’t been raised indecades. We see it when our children are called mentally ill because they don’t feel comfortable in the gender they were born into. It is evident in the fearful looks we give to anyone who looks Muslim or dark brown. The evidence is in the comments on social media.
Maybe we are too politically correct or we don’t speak the truth for fear of hurting people’s feelings. Yes we marched, we called, and we sent post cards, but you know what? We aren’t mad enough. We aren’t scared enough. We are still so hopeful that our system will work that we don’t see that the system is being broken before our very eyes.
The politicians redrew our districts so they could pick their voters. The Supreme Court gave corporations the same free speech rights as us through the Citizens United decision. The FCC no longer feels that news broadcasts should serve public good and present opposing viewpoints. Our right to protest are being outlawed in many states. Free speech is under attack and reporters aren’t allowed to record White House press briefings.
When is it enough for you?
If you voted for Trump, you voted against my children and part of me hates you for it. The other part of me has compassion for you. You were played by the system. They created an atmosphere of paranoia and fear that your way of life was under attack and your personal beliefs and rights were being taken away. You were fed spoonful after spoonful of all the ways you and your children would be harmed by children like mine. Your vote and faith in our President were bought and paid for by manipulation, fearmongering, and intimidation. So only a part of me hates you, the other part wants to hug you and tell you that you can relax. There is no gay agenda, there is no Muslim invasion, no band of criminal immigrants around every corner or welfare queens coming to steal your money.
This, all of this, is why I can no longer tell my kids that everything will be ok, that everything will work itself out. That isn’t true and won’t be until you start to see me and my kids as people, as your neighbors.
We used to be.
How Fragile are LGTB Victories in Illinois?
Before Trump - Decades in the Making
- 1993 - Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)passes both houses of Congress and becomes law mandating that religious liberty of individuals can only be limited by the "least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest"
- 1997- The U.S. Supreme Court in City of Boerne v. Flores held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act only applies to the federal government but not states and other local municipalities within them.
- October 1998, President Clinton signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act, passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Act mandated the establishment of an Office of International Religious Freedom within the Department of State https://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/
- 1998 - Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed the Illinois Senate 56-0 and became law on July 1st
- 2004, Illinois lawmakers passed anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation for housing, employment, public accommodation, credit and other measures.
- 2013 – Illinois passes same-sex marriage law.
- 2014, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. recognizing a for-profit corporation's claim of religious belief.
- 2015 – 16 states begin using the Hobby Lobby case as grounds for same-sex marriage discrimination. Gov Mike Pence of Indiana (now Vice President Pence) defends the right to discriminate based on the new state law.
- 2016 - Department of Justice and Education issue statement that provided protections for transgender students under Title IX — a federal rule that bars sex-based discrimination in public schools. 21 states file lawsuits, claiming that Title IX protections don’t cover gender identity,
- 2016 - Fremd High School in Palatine, IL -based District 211 draws national attention for barring a transgender student from using the girl’s locker rooms, school board member censured for publically humiliating the student. The board acquiesced late in the year to pressure to be more accommodating and agreed to let the student use the locker room with the installation of a privacy curtain.
- 2016 -18-year-old Alex McCray of Sherman, with the help of the ACLU, convinced administrators in Williamsville, IL to adopt a policy that allows transgender students to use restrooms rooms that match their gender identity. Parents opposed are represented by Scottsdale, Arizona–based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Chicago-based Thomas More Society to stop the accommodations.
- 2016 - Illinois House Bill 4474 introduced with 27 Illinois representatives, including Chicago collar county representatives, signing on as co-sponsors intending to limit students’ use of restrooms to the gender identified at birth. The bill moves through committees, but is never scheduled for a vote.
After Trump - Less than 6 months later...
- February – President Trump's decision ends directive requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identity
- March - U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by a Virginia transgender high school student, Gavin Grimm, who was suing to use school restrooms that corresponded with his gender identity
- July 26 – Trump Reinstates ban on 11,000 transgender service personnel in the military and reserve forces, despite the DOD policy banning discrimination a year prior
- July 26 - The Justice Department said in a federal suit that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay people from discrimination in the workplace. Justice Department lawyers wrote in an amicus brief that the ban on sex discrimination does not include sexual orientation, saying it would be up to Congress to alter the relevant provision of the 1964 law
- July 26 - Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas Appointed by the White House as Religious Freedom Ambassador