As you embark upon the next four years, you have an opportunity that no other President has had — to put an end to our nation’s toxic culture war over LGBT people.
Kate Kendell — File photo
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same freedom to marry as other Americans. That ruling was the culmination of decades of struggle by LGBT people to win equality and respect for our families and our lives. Today, across our country, same-sex couples can protect their families, LGBT young people can grow up without the devastating stigma of being treated as outlaws or outcasts, and businesses no longer have to waste time and money navigating a confusing patchwork of conflicting state laws treating gay and straight families differently.
Increasingly, however, those gains are under a senseless and destructive attack. In virtually every red state, a vociferous minority of state officials and legislators are seeking to reignite a culture war over LGBT people by introducing so-called “bathroom bills” and sweeping exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that prey on unsupported fears about LGBT people.
This backlash has already caused significant economic and social harm. In North Carolina alone, the enactment of a radical anti-LGBT law has roiled the state, leading to multiple lawsuits, millions of dollars of lost revenue as businesses cancel contracts and relocate new ventures, and the loss of countless opportunities for increased understanding between LGBT people and their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We cannot afford to see this turmoil spread to other states. And yet, already in 2017, legislators in multiple states have introduced similarly divisive anti-LGBT bills, with no end in sight.
As someone who has long been deemed an outsider in many ways yourself, perhaps you can understand something of the fear and despair this backlash is generating for LGBT people. In a way that may be unique in our nation’s history, you have the power to reach across partisan lines and put these issues behind us, once and for all.
By opposing divisive anti-LGBT bills, you can bring the backlash against LGBT equality in state legislatures to an end. By embracing policies that support LGBT youth, you can save lives and keep them in their families and schools. And by insisting upon fair treatment of LGBT people, you can model a truly new era in our nation’s politics and ensure a legacy that will endure.
National Center for Lesbian Rights @katekendell
The opinions expressed in these letters are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations and this magazine, its staff and contributors.
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