In our fight for LGBT Equality, we’ve written an open letter addressed to the newly-elected president of the United States, Donald Trump.
Campaign and Election
On November 8th, to the shock of a majority of the popular votes, you won enough electoral votes to become the 45th president of the United States come January 20th, 2017. During the election process and campaign, the American people witnessed the most divisive and polarizing election campaign in the history of the United States. Your campaign was marked by hateful statements such as calling for a temporary ban on all Muslims and insults leveled at hardworking immigrants who for decades have been fundamental to our national fabric.
A few weeks into your campaign, it was clear that any demographic that did not fit into the mold of your “America” was a target of your insults and an enemy of the state. You fueled propaganda that these demographics – immigrants, Muslims, and LGBT are obstacles that we face in the pursuit of the American dream. The LGBT community is part of this demographic and we are deeply concerned about our future under your administration. Are our fears at being treated as lesser citizens and the erosion of rights we fought so dearly for, real or unfounded? Four years from now, would we have advanced our causes or would our rights have eroded? Can we still achieve LGBT equality?
But before we look to the future, let’s go back in time
The history of LGBT people in America has been largely hidden but it is a crucial part of our national history. For decades, the notion of equal rights for LGBT people seemed like a far-fetched dream when the movement was in its initial stage. In 1965, a man named Frank Kameny was fired from his job in the government because he was gay. Kameny is one of the most significant figures in gay rights movement. The incident sparked the nation’s first major public gay protest action. In 1969, another major turning point took place. LGBT people after decades of being subjected to police hostility, patrons in Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York fought back. This gave rise to new period of gay activism.
It wasn’t until 2003, in a landmark Supreme Court decision that made same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state. The first same-sex marriage after the court’s decision, took place in Massachusetts in 2004. In the following years, many states followed suit. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key parts of Defense Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. In 2015, the Supreme Court in another landmark decision, ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.
Read: Confessions of a God-Fearing Gay: The Struggle and Priesthood
We’ve come a long way but our toughest fight now lies ahead
All of these victories were the result of arduous struggles by the LGBT community and our allies in the fight to LGBT equality. Taking into consideration the hard-won battles to winning these victories, there is too much at stake for us not to realize that the turn of events that contributed to you becoming the next POTUS, is evidence that our fight and struggles are far from over. A part of America, people who we call friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and the people next to us on the subway or bus, believe that their pursuit of economic prosperity trumps (no pun intended) our fight for equal rights – to be free from prejudice and discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. To be silent is to allow these rights to be taken away from us.
Taking cue from your rhetoric, policies, and proposals, it is clear that your presidency and administration will test our resolve for equal rights. You even made public your plan to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia who could overrule the ruling on same-sex marriage. Justice Scalia is known to be one of the most staunchly anti-LGBT equality justices in the history of the Supreme Court. He led the opposition to marriage equality. Moreover, as the number of anti-LGBT bills builds up in different states, you wasted no time in throwing support to them, one of which is North Carolina’s infamous HB2, which has been described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.
Your VP elect, Mike Pence, is a staunch opponent of efforts to expand LGBT equality and civil rights. He promotes conversion therapy – a psychological treatment or spiritual counseling designed to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. Medical experts, health professionals, doctors, and counselors have already decided that conversion therapy is ineffective and unethical. In fact, many people have considered conversion therapy a form of torture and child abuse.
Our resolve has never been stronger
As a community, we want our voices heard and our rights advocated and protected. We cannot sit idly or take a passive stance while a mockery is made of the long history of gay activism carried on for decades. As I have said earlier, the notion of LGBT equality seemed a dream for our community decades ago, but today through our collective action, this dream is a reality and we won’t allow your administration to take it away from us.