Summer Series #13: The Loud Minority - We Demand to Be Heard

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By Jake Bjork (Loud Minority)

Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.

At 10:31 AM on June 14th, 2016, President Trump promised me protection. Regardless of the election outcome, I began to believe that I would be able to freely and confidently express my status as an LGBT American without being confronted with any personal or legal consequences. Even if Trump won, I thought to myself there’s NO way he’ll use his power to take away civil rights. Because in a country flooded with nationalism, I assumed that my unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness was equally important to celebrate as the red, white, and blue that we as Americans rave about. It sounded reasonable to me, at least.

As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me.

During the Republican National Convention, I again began to believe President Trump as he spoke about the Orlando shooting. Despite the xenophobic comparison to the Muslim faith as a “hateful foreign ideology”, I tried my best to put faith in his claims to protect American minorities. After all, in a land founded off of Jefferson’s principle stating that “all men were created equal”, the U.S. must have people in power-- state legislatures, U.S. Congressmen, and especially a President-- that are all dedicated to protecting the rights of each subgroup of the American population.

But believe me, President Trump-- that isn’t true.

Despite the proclamations made by Donald Trump and his fellow Republican Party affiliates, Hillary Clinton is not the primary threat to my freedoms or beliefs. Likewise, the Muslim faith is not to be blamed for the vast history of discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQ+ people. President Trump, just like a surplus of other right-wing politicians, have taken advantage of hate crimes committed against American minorities to instill fear in future voters using conservative propaganda. These people-- white, rich, Christian, straight, and cisgender male politicians-- are the most significant threat to the LGBTQ+ community, as they abuse their powerful positions to uphold systemic levels of hate and oppression by drafting and supporting discriminatory pieces of legislation.

 

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But how is that even possible?

Take into consideration Texas HB 3859, a bill made to “encourage more [faith based organizations] to participate as child welfare providers”, since “25% identify as faith-based” (Evans). Initially, this seems logical. If there’s a need for child welfare providers, and the majority of them are faith-based, a piece of legislation giving them protection may encourage more providers to partake in the system. Texas Tribute author Marissa Evans mentions that the bill’s sponsor, Senators Charles Perry, said that ,”the legislation is ‘not meant to discriminate’ against anyone and that the ‘best interest of the child’ would always be top priority”.

However, this is questionable. When taking a closer look into the bill’s language, the word “child” appears to come with some limitations. The supposedly all-inclusive bill allows child welfare providers to deny a child care if it would violate “the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs”. They can also force children into “a religious education” that coincides with the provider’s beliefs, and not necessarily the child’s. Child welfare providers can also refuse to “refer a person for abortions, contraceptives… or services that are potentially abortion-inducing”.

Because of this bill, Muslim children can be forced into private Christian schools. Same-sex parents can be refused adoption rights, marriage licenses, and job security. Women can be denied safe sex resources and contraceptives. A heterosexual and cisgender child can even be declined counseling services for having same-sex parents. This bill gives child welfare providers the power to refuse nearly anything to anyone. They just have to cite a violation of a “sincerely held religious belief”.

 

After analyzing the bill’s language, it may be easier to hypothesize that HB 3859’s only “top priority” is to uphold the traditional beliefs and values of those who are already at the top-- white, Christian, straight, and cisgender male politicians. However, there is a glimpse of hope when the bill promises to “maintain a diverse network of service providers… that can accommodate children from various cultural backgrounds”. But how could this be true?

 

How can a piece of legislation, supposedly crafted to include diverse and minority identities, be drafted by all upper class, white, Christian, heterosexual, and cisgender congressmen? And why is it that every single committee member who voted in favor of this bill held the exact same identities as those who wrote it?

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Texas HB 3859 says that we should not construe its meaning to “burden a person’s free exercise of religion” or “narrow the meaning” of the First Amendment. Yet we should.

 

My voice, LGBTQ+ voices, Muslim voices, women’s voices, black voices, immigrants voices-- all of our voices are muted by a never ending parade of prejudice legislation and congressmen. Texas HB 3859 is just one example. There is Mississippi HB 1523, which explicitly states that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman”. The Representatives who created this bill also share the same race, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status. The American Civil Liberties Union has even argued that the U.S. Department of Justice is inserting its presents into court cases "to advance discriminatory legal arguments" favoring traditionally conservatives views and morals (Thompson).  

 

I used to only think of our right to freedom of speech in a verbal context. Yet after analyzing the destructive language inscribed into Texas HB 3859, I was reminded that state and U.S. congressmen have repeatedly abused this right, in written form, to uphold the ongoing systemic oppression and discrimination still occurring in the year 2017.

 

Today, I try my best to remain optimistic about what the future holds for minorities living in America and around the world. But if I’m being honest, I’m also scared. I’m scared of LGBTQ+ people being killed for expressing love. I’m scared of Muslim individuals being killed for believing in their faith. I’m scared of women being killed for not being men. I’m scared of people of color being killed for not being white.

 

But our voices will not die.

 

So, President Trump: you’re welcome. But the only protection that the LGBT community needs is from the same people who we elected to provide us with it.

 

Works Cited

Evans, Marissa. “Senate Passes Religious Protections for Child Welfare Agencies.” The Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune, 21 May 2017, www.texastribune.org/2017/05/21/senate-passes-

religious-protections-child-welfare-agencies/

 

Marcos, Cristina. “115th Congress Will Be Most Racially Diverse in History.” The Hill, 12 June

2017, thehill.com/homenews/house/306480-115th-congress-will-be-most-racially-diverse

-in-history.

 

Terkel, Amanda. “Donald Trump Promises To Protect The LGBTQ Community.” The Huffington

Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 July 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-

trump-lgbt_us_57918ba8e4b0fc06ec5c7fdd.

 

Thompson, Ian. “Jeff Sessions Thinks It Should Be Legal to Fire You for Being LGBT.”American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union, 27 July 2017,

www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/jeff-sessions-thinks-it-should-be-legal-fire-you-being-lgbt.

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