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PRIDE, PREJUDICE & POWER

Using this Pride month to organize is crucial to ensuring progress toward equity for LGBTQ+ folk following election season.

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6 mins read

By Ben Jealous

June is Pride month
in the United States.
In big cities and small
communities, LGBTQ+
people and their friends,
families, and allies will
celebrate freedom and
progress toward full
equality. All fair-minded
Americans can celebrate
that progress. But there is
a growing shadow over
this year’s celebrations.
The far-right political

movement is aggressively
trying to turn back the
clock to a time when
LGBTQ+ people were not
treated equally under the
law. Anti-equality legal
groups and anti-equality
politicians are pushing
legal and political attacks
on our most vulnerable
young people. MAGA
movement political
operatives are trying to
win elections by stirring
up fear and hatred
against LGBTQ+ people.
They are proposing
and passing laws that are
stunning in their cruelty.
Some make it a crime for
librarians to let students
read books with gay
themes and characters—

or for teachers to provide
supportive information
to LGBTQ+ students.
Some make it a crime
for doctors to provide
appropriate health care
to transgender youth. In
Texas, parents who are
simply trying to love and
support their trans kids
can now be charged with
child abuse.
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That is beyond
unacceptable. It is
sadistic. Driving the
passage of those laws is

a false and inflammatory
campaign to portray
support for LGBTQ+
people as the equivalent

of pedophilia. Right-
wing elected activists

and pundits smear gay
people as threats to
children, and equality
advocates as “groomers.”
That kind of smear is
dangerous. False and
demonizing stereotypes
have a long history that
Black people know well.
Lies about Black men
were used by violent
bigots to justify lynching
as necessary to “protect”

Ketchum

White women—
and continue
to drive police
violence against

Black people
today. The
more elected
officials and

far right-
wing activists spread

the “groomer” lie, the
more likely it is that
some bigots will try to
justify discrimination and
violence against LGBTQ+
people as necessary to
“protect” children and
youth. And then there’s
the Supreme Court.
Historically, it was in June
that the Supreme Court
overturned state laws
that made gay people
criminals.

A dozen years later, in
another June decision,
the court ruled that
states cannot refuse to
marry same-sex couples.
June has given us many
reasons to celebrate
the march toward full
equality. But that could
all change. Thanks to
hard-right justices named
by former President
Donald Trump, the same

majority that considers
states’ rights more
important than voting
rights is preparing to
overturn Roe v. Wade—
stripping Americans of a
constitutional right that
the court has recognized
for half a century. The
far-right court majority’s
eagerness to eliminate a
long-recognized right to
privacy and abortion is
deeply troubling to those
of us who support legal
equality. Anti-LGBTQ+
legal and political groups
that urged the Court to
overturn Roe v Wade are
hoping the same justices
will reverse more recent
rulings that recognized
the equality of LGBTQ+
people and same-sex
couples.
They don’t just want
to overturn the court’s
marriage equality ruling.
They also want the court
to let states criminalize
homosexuality, making
it possible again for gay
people to be fired, or

have their children taken
away from them, because
of their sexual orientation.
They want to make
America discriminate
again. It is time for all
Americans who support
equality and civil rights
to reject anti-LGBTQ+
smears and the harm
and the discrimination
they cause. And it is time
to remember that the
earliest equality marches
were not focused on
pride, but on freedom
and liberation—from
police harassment,
oppressive laws and
culture, and institutional
discrimination. Let’s
celebrate pride this
month.
We could all use a
good dance party right
about now. But let’s also
make sure that people
understand how much
progress is at risk. And
let’s organize. We’re just
six months away from
local, state, and national
elections. Those elections

will either give more
power to the raging
anti-freedom forces that
want to take the country
back—and move us all
backwards—or they will
help us move toward
the goal of freedom and
justice for all.
Ben Jealous serves as
president of People
For the American Way
and Professor of the
Practice at the University
of Pennsylvania. A New
York Times best-selling
author, his next book
“Never Forget Our People
Were Always Free” will
be published by Harper
Collins in December
2022.

The post Pride, Prejudice, And
Power appeared first on The
Seattle Medium.

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