Another Week, Another Attack on LGBTQ Rights...Actually Several
Minus the incessant drumming and trumpet fanfares, the president’s recent visit to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Jamboree had all the trappings of a classic 1930s Hitler Youth rally. It shouldn’t have, of course, and it wasn’t supposed to. BSA is a non-partisan youth organization designed to instill in its members a set of core values. You know those dozen virtues starting with “trustworthy, loyal, helpful…”
Traditionally, the president is invited to give a speech encouraging and inspiring the scouts to live according to their oath. Instead, the president’s speech was a vulgar endorsement of his own self-serving code of misogyny, intimidation, greed and division. A Harvard professor of psychiatry called it “toxic” and “indoctrination.”
I know a scout leader in a South Side Milwaukee troop. The embodiment of scouting, he is an athlete and an environmentalist with strong family and community ties. He is truly an exemplary representative of all the good to which scouting aspires. And, he’s gay. He was happy his troop was camping and off the grid during the Jamboree. When we spoke, his scouts hadn’t heard the speech, and he was concerned how they might have been affected if they had. “I imagine our boys who maybe don’t have much money and are so diverse in their background would be so disappointed to hear the tone of the speech,” he confessed. That may be an understatement.
Scout parents and anyone else with a sense of dignity reacted with revulsion and criticized the BSA for letting it happen. The chief scout executive offered a tepid apology for the event’s politicization, but not for the speech’s content. Not surprisingly, BSA President Randall Stephenson, who is also AT&T’s CEO, was equally noncommittal. He’s currently lobbying the president to support his company’s takeover of Time Warner Cable. The $85 billion deal is currently before a Department of Justice anti-trust review. Should it go through, AT&T will own Time Warner subsidiary and regime critic CNN. The quid pro quo would logically be for Stephenson to muzzle CNN. Perhaps, as an additional bone for the base, a rollback of allowing LGBTQ scouts and leaders might be negotiable as well.
Speaking of which, days later, in another moment of rule by tweet-decree, the president announced, purportedly with “his” generals’ acquiescence, the U.S. military would ban transgender people from serving “in any capacity.” The Evangelical base, giddy with bigotry, celebrated. However, those generals had never been consulted at all. At least for now, they insisted, the current transgender policy remains in place. Still, the action portends a wider attack on the remaining LGBTQs. Reinstating Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or an outright ban would not be beyond the machinations of a clique bent on dismantling democracy and the equality it guarantees.
Meanwhile, in response, the state’s LGBTQ advocacy group, Fair Wisconsin, issued a policy statement of solidarity with trans service members. Our local community center graciously thanked our transgender troops. Milwaukee Pride’s President Wes Shaver also posted official remarks decrying the trans ban.
Then the Department of Justice announced LGBTQs may not be protected by civil rights laws. It never ends.