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Recycling McCarthy-Style LGBTQ Attacks, Again

October 16, 2022 0 comments

Senator Joseph McCarthy asserted in 1950 that Harry Truman’s State Department had been “infiltrated” by subversives, a designation that included both communists and LGBTQ+ at the time.

McCarthy rapidly realized, however, that claims of gay men infiltration were more effective at inciting outrage among voters.

With a midterm election on the horizon, Republicans accused Democrats of “harboring” homosexuals. They took the advice of editors at the New York Daily News, who wrote, “If we were writing Republican campaign speeches, we’d use the word ‘queer’ at every opportunity.”

Conservative Republicans exploited the claim that the administration was “honeycombed with homosexuals” to retake the White House from the Democrats in the 1950s.

“Let’s Clean House,” was their campaign motto.

Charges of a powerful LGBTQ+ network, a subversive fifth column that has “infiltrated” the party, resurfaced in the outrage over Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley in 2006, adopting the same techniques as the McCarthy-era “purge of the perverts.”

In an unsettling parallel to the McCarthy era, federal prosecutors in Arizona launched an investigation of Rep. Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican congressperson, over a camping trip he took a decade ago with a group that included former pages.

Though the circumstances differed significantly from the Foley scandal—Kolbe was not in the closet, and the men were neither still in the congressional program nor underage—the news reinforced the public’s perception of LGBTQ+ politicians as sexual predators.

Republicans have once again resurrecting McCarthy-style attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in an attempt to retake Congress and state legislatures in the 2022 elections.

In 2020, Justices Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Alito said publicly they planned to target Marriage Equality as soon as they have the opportunity.

While overturning Roe this year, Alito specifically criticized the landmark civil rights cases that legalized marriage equality, Obergefell v. Hodges, and private consensual sex, Lawrence v. Texas

According to the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures as of 2022.

At least six states have prohibited transgender women and girls from participation on gender-congruent sports teams.

This year, Arizona, Alabama, and Texas all passed legislation prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents, with Alabama making it a felony for doctors to provide such care to minors.

Despite Republican talking points, LGBTQ groups and medical providers have pointed out that most gender-affirming care for children entails adjusting their dress, pronouns, preferred bathrooms, and possibly taking reversible puberty blockers. Surgery is rarely ever performed on children.

Other states are considering limitations on mentioning LGBTQ existence or topics in schools, following Florida’s lead, which enacted a bill opponents nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay.”

With the midterms only weeks away, Republicans are ramping up the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

Earlier this month, while Hurricane Ian was pelting Floridians, the Florida Department of Education published “on the down-low” plans to revoke or suspend the teaching licenses of elementary school teachers found to have violated the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “don’t say gay” law.

The law is vague, leaving everyone dazed and confused about what conduct is on the right or wrong side of the law.

For example, if a teacher accidentally mentions a spouse’s gender-identifying name and then affirmatively responds to a student’s question about whether the teacher is in a same-sex marriage, which is legal nationwide, has the teacher violated Florida law and become subject to both an investigation and the loss of teaching credentials?

Nobody knows.

The law mandates schools create a system for reporting [undefined, so subjective] violations for investigation. The law also includes provisions for parents to easily sue if dissatisfied with the results of a school or the department’s investigation.

Instead of Republicans vs. Democrats in November, it’s a battle for the soul of the Republican Party between the party’s more moderate pro-business wing and the Christian right’s militant moralists.

In Arizona, the Christian right’s militant moralists side won the Republican primaries.

The November elections may or may not establish which side owns the soul of the Republican Party, but the results in Arizona will almost certainly determine if Christian right militant moralists have the means to wield their dominance over the rest of us.

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