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Republicans Sharpen Post-Roe Attacks on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights

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Days after the Supreme Court overturned the precise to abortion, Michigan’s Republican candidates for governor were asked if it was also time to roll back constitutional protections for gay rights.

Not one of the five candidates got here to the defense of same-sex marriage.

“They should revisit all of it,” one candidate, Garrett Soldano, said at the talk, in Warren, Mich.

“Michigan’s structure,” said one other candidate, Ralph Rebandt, “says that for the betterment of society, marriage is between a person and a girl.”

Because the Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade, anti-gay rhetoric and calls to roll back established L.G.B.T.Q. protections have grown bolder. And while Republicans in Congress appear deeply divided about same-sex marriage — nearly 50 House Republicans on Tuesday joined Democrats in supporting a bill that will recognize same-sex marriages on the federal level — many Republican officials and candidates across the country have made attacking gay and transgender rights a celebration norm this midterm season.

In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the Roe reversal that he could be “willing and able” to defend on the Supreme Court any law criminalizing sodomy enacted by the Legislature. Before that, the Republican Party of Texas adopted a platform that calls homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle alternative.”

In Utah, the Republican president of the State Senate, Stuart Adams, said he would support his state’s joining with others to press the Supreme Court to reverse the precise of same-sex couples to wed. In Arizona, Kari Lake, a candidate for governor endorsed by Donald J. Trump, affirmed in a June 29 debate her support for a bill barring children from drag shows — the newest goal of supercharged rhetoric on the precise.

And in Michigan’s governor’s race, Mr. Soldano released an ad belittling the usage of specific pronouns by those that don’t conform to traditional gender roles (“My pronouns: Conservative/Patriot”) and accusing “the woke groomer mafia” of wanting to indoctrinate children.

Some Democrats and advocates for L.G.B.T.Q. communities say the Republican attacks have deepened their concerns that the overturning of Roe could undermine other cases built on the identical legal foundation — the precise to privacy provided within the Fourteenth Amendment — and result in increases in hate crimes in addition to suicides of L.G.B.T.Q. youth.

Key Themes From the 2022 Midterm Elections So Far

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The state of the midterms. We are actually over halfway through this 12 months’s midterm primary season, and a few key ideas and questions have begun to emerge from the outcomes. Here’s a have a look at what we’ve learned up to now:

“The dominoes have began to fall, they usually won’t just stop at one,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan, a Democrat who was the primary openly gay person elected to statewide office there. “People should see the connection between reproductive rights, L.G.B.T.Q. rights, women’s rights, interracial marriage — this stuff are all connected legally.”

This 12 months, Republican-led states have already passed quite a few restrictions on transgender young people and on school discussions of sexual orientation and gender.

In June, Louisiana became the 18th state, all with G.O.P.-led legislatures, to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. Laws to ban transitioning medical treatments to people under 18, comparable to puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries — which advocates call gender-affirming care — have been enacted by 4 states. And after Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a law in March banning classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, greater than a dozen other states moved to mimic it.

In all, over 300 bills to limit L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been introduced this 12 months in 23 states, in line with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization.

The bills into account focus not on same-sex marriage but on transgender youth, on restricting school curriculums and on allowing groups to refuse services to L.G.B.T.Q. people based on religious faith. Many of the measures don’t have any likelihood of passage due to opposition from Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Still, the Human Rights Campaign had characterised 2021 because the worst 12 months in recent history for anti-L.G.B.T.Q. laws after states passed seven measures banning transgender athletes from sports teams that match their gender identity. To date in 2022, those numbers are already higher.

Officials and television commentators on the precise have accused opponents of a few of those recent restrictions of looking for to “sexualize” or “groom” children. Grooming refers back to the tactics utilized by sexual predators to govern their victims, nevertheless it has turn into deployed widely on the precise to brand gay and transgender people as child molesters, evoking an earlier era of homophobia.

Updated 

July 21, 2022, 7:00 p.m. ET

Some conservative advocacy groups that poured resources into transgender restrictions insist that they aren’t focused on difficult the 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. But many L.G.B.T.Q. advocates say they consider their hard-won rights are under attack.

“The far right is emboldened in a way they’ve not been in five many years,” said State Representative Daniel Hernandez Jr. of Arizona, a Democrat and a co-founder of the Legislature’s L.G.B.T.Q. caucus. “Along with attempting to create much more restrictions on abortion, they’re going after the L.G.B.T.Q. community much more.”

Republicans say the laws focused on transgender youth aren’t transphobic — because the left sees them — but protect girls’ sports and put the brakes on irreversible medical treatments.

They said the problems have the facility to peel away centrist voters, who polling shows are less committed to transgender rights than to same-sex marriage. A Washington Post-University of Maryland survey in May found 55 percent of Americans oppose letting transgender girls compete on girls’ highschool teams. In a Gallup poll last 12 months, 51 percent of Americans said changing one’s gender is “morally mistaken.”

“I feel these are enormous issues for swing voters and moderates,” said Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, a bunch that opposes civil rights protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people and plans to spend as much as $12 million on ads before November.

Considered one of the group’s ads goes after Representative Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican facing a primary challenge next month, for co-sponsoring a House bill that pairs anti-discrimination protections for L.G.B.T.Q. individuals with exemptions for religious groups. Saying the bill “would put men in girls’ locker rooms,” the ad asks, “Would you trust Meijer together with your daughter?”

Against this, Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, said “hate has no place” within the state after he vetoed an anti-transgender sports bill. Had it turn into law, he said, the ban would have “a devastating impact on a vulnerable population already at greater risk of bullying and depression.”

A 2022 survey by the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group, found that almost one in five transgender or gender-nonconforming young people had attempted suicide prior to now 12 months. L.G.B.T.Q. youth who feel accepted of their schools and community reported lower rates of suicide attempts.

The surge in transgender restrictions reflects a reversal of fortune for social conservatives from just a number of years ago, when a deal with “bathroom bills” produced a backlash. A North Carolina law passed in 2016 requiring people to make use of public restrooms matching their birth gender contributed to the defeat of the Republican governor who signed it.

“It made quite a lot of folks wary of going after transgender rights,” said Gillian Branstetter, a communications strategist for the A.C.L.U. who’s transgender.

But that modified with the deal with sports teams and transitioning medicine for minors, she said.

On the precise, the transgender restrictions have been pushed by advocacy groups which have long opposed L.G.B.T.Q. rights and in some cases consulted within the drafting of laws. And on the left, the wave of laws has been utilized by liberal organizations to mobilize their base, fund-raise and help prove voters in midterm primaries in a hostile national political climate for Democrats.

In Arizona, where Republicans control the Legislature and the governor’s office, a law enacted this 12 months bars trans girls from competing on sports teams aligned with their gender and on transitioning surgery for people under 18.

“My colleagues on the precise have spent more time demonizing me and the L.G.B.T.Q. community than I’ve ever seen,” said Mr. Hernandez, the state representative, who’s running within the Democratic primary for Congress on Aug. 2 in a Tucson-area seat.

Within the Arizona primary for governor, Ms. Lake, the Trump-endorsed candidate who’s leading in some polls, seized on a recent uproar over drag performers — in response to a viral video of youngsters at a Dallas drag show — to reveal her sharp shift to the precise.

“They kicked God out of colleges and welcomed the Drag Queens,” Ms. Lake said in a tweet last month. “They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow.” And Republican leaders within the Arizona Legislature, denouncing “sexual perversion,” called for a law barring children from drag shows.

But a drag performer in Phoenix, Rick Stevens, accused Ms. Lake, who he said had been a friend for years, of hypocrisy. “I’ve performed for Kari’s birthday, I’ve performed in her home (with children present) and I’ve performed for her at among the seediest bars in Phoenix,” he wrote on Instagram.

Mr. Stevens, who goes by the stage name Barbra Seville, posted photos of the 2 of them together — one with Ms. Lake next to him while he’s wearing drag, and one other when he’s in drag and wearing Halloween-style skull makeup while she poses alongside him dressed as Elvis.

In a debate, Ms. Lake insisted Mr. Stevens was lying about acting at her home and her campaign threatened to sue him for defamation.

In Michigan, meanwhile, Ms. Nessel, the Democratic attorney general, joked at a civil rights conference in June that drag queens “make the whole lot higher,” and added, “A drag queen for each school.” In response, Tudor Dixon, a Republican candidate for governor, called this month for laws letting parents sue school districts that host drag shows, despite there being no evidence that a district had ever done so.

“We’re taking step one today to protecting children,” Ms. Dixon said.

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