LGBT lobby sets priorities after convention, address lack of diversity in own leadership

by WorldTribune Staff, August 2, 2016

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement set a list of characteristically aggressive goals during its Equality Forum summit at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The LGBT movement has four priorities on its list of goals, number one being passage of the Equality Act. The federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, and Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity among prohibited categories of discrimination.

Panelists at the LGBT Equality Forum.
Panelists at the LGBT Equality Forum.
[The movement may want to add more diversity within its own leadership to the list after a reporter noted that many of the panelists at the summit were “middle-aged white men.”

Speakers at the Equality Forum acknowledged the problem, and admitted a double standard. “If we’re going to talk about millennials and people of color, it’s important to talk with them and not to them,” the Arcus Foundation’s Kevin Jennings said.]

According to one of the most influential LGBT advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign, the Equality Act legislation would apply to areas of “employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education, and jury service.”

Opponents say the Equality Act would limit the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, forcing private business owners to violate their religious beliefs about marriage and mandating that people be allowed into restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and similar facilities based on their gender identity.

“The ‘Equality Act’ is a misnomer,” wrote Ryan T. Anderson, an expert on marriage and religious liberty at The Heritage Foundation. “The bill does not protect equality before the law, but unnecessarily and unjustly violates freedom by creating special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The second priority is defeating what the LGBT movement says are “anti-LGBT” state and local laws, such as North Carolina’s HB2 legislation.

Equality Forum panelists say more than 200 such measures popped up last year and LGBT groups will go state by state to strike down religious freedom measures and look to implement their own laws on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The national conversation around this is night and day different from where it was last fall,” said James Esseks, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and AIDS project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We finally got over being awkward and shy about talking about restrooms.”

Third on the list is pursuing the LGBT agenda through court cases involving what the movement says is “anti-LGBT” discrimination.

In one such case, a Pennsylvania transgender woman is suing the outdoor recreation company Cabela’s, a former employer, arguing Cabela’s did not provide reasonable accommodations for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

“When it came to the question of which bathroom she should use, [the supervisor] wouldn’t allow her to use the women’s restroom in the store, and instead, suggested that maybe she should go to the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street,” said Janson Wu, executive director of the advocacy group GLAD.

“This is clear discrimination based on your transgender status,” he said. “If we’re able to remove or overturn this exclusion, then we’ve just opened up really important protections for transgender people in public accommodations,” he said.

The fourth priority is to partner with other minority rights groups, prime among them being Black Lives Matter.

Jennings said that “the rights of black people are gay rights, and the rights of gay people are black rights.”

“If we remain silent then we lose, in my mind, the ability to complain when we are the victims of similar treatment,” he said. “We would lose all credibility.”