THE BLOG

WATCH: Homophobes Have Invented a Scary New Tactic to Undo Equal Rights

02/26/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Homophobes, having lost the fight over marriage, have just launched a new stealth attack to undo equality -- and so far, they're winning.

Conservative lawmakers and religious fundamentalists have disguised their new strategy so well that you might not even have noticed what they're up to. Or at least, you won't notice until you get fired, or evicted or thrown out of school just for seeming too gay.

Here's their sneaky trick: They've realized that they can't pass laws that specifically target LGBT people, since public opinion has turned against that kind of bigotry. So now, instead, they're selectively re-writing nondiscrimination laws so that they have a Big Gay Loophole that's so big it could ruin lives.

This week they passed a law called SB202 that undoes civil rights protections in Arkansas. And now, West Virginia and Texas are considering copycat bills of their own, with HB2881 and SB343.

I explain exactly how it works in this video:

But if you're in a hurry, here's all you really need to know: Most states allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender expression. In those states, some towns have filled in that civil rights loophole by passing more inclusive nondiscrimination laws at the local level. But now, the homophobes have realized that they can pass state laws that make it illegal for those towns to add protections for new groups.

In effect, that wipes out the existing local laws that protect LGBTs. It doesn't just widen the Big Gay Loophole -- it holds the loophole open, so nobody can close it.

Or in other words: They're making it a crime to protect people from discrimination.

Sounds nuts, doesn't it? "Outlawing nondiscrimination" is such a bizarre notion that it made me feel weird to even type the phrase.

But, it's what they're doing, and they're getting away with it.

And it gets worse: This doesn't just affect LGBTs -- it affects straight people, too. You don't have to be queer to be evicted or fired or denied access to a public accommodation. It's enough for someone to just suspect that you're gay, or even that you're not behaving stereotypically male or female enough.

A woman could be evicted from her home for wearing pants.

A man in a pink shirt could be fired for seeming too feminine.

A boy who doesn't like football, or a girl who'd rather study science than sewing? Kicked out of school. And we're not just talking about private religious schools -- this kind of discrimination would be legal in public institutions.

What's so insidious about this tactic is that on the surface, it seems incredibly boring.

They just passed one of these bills in Arkansas, with the innocuous name "Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act" -- you could fall asleep before you get to the end of that title. West Virginia just introduced a bill with exactly the same name. And in Texas, they're calling it "An Act Relating To The Conformity Of Local Law With State Law." Zzzzzzz.

They've disguised a great evil inside of something super-dull, which is why I call this tactic "The Phantom Menace of Anti-Gay Legislation."

Because these bills seem so wonky and technical and never even mention LGBTs, very few people have even noticed that they're happening.

But if the homophobes have their way, they could pass copycat bills in more than half of the states by the end of this year.

So can they be stopped? Maybe. The best way for citizens to take a stand against this sneak-attack is to talk about how it'll affect you. Start a conversation today about how this scary new trend would:

  • Make it legal for a bank to close your checking account if they found out you spent money to attend a coworker's lesbian wedding
  • Allow a bus driver to kick you off because he thinks you look gay
  • Prevent the child of two dads from attending college
  • Leave you stranded and sick outside a hospital that refuses to admit gays
  • Let a landlord evict you for inviting a lesbian friend over for dinner
  • Force LGBTs back into the closet in order to protect themselves, as though it was the 1950s

Over the last few years, civil rights groups have made great strides towards ending this kind of discrimination by passing more inclusive laws all across the country. But this sneaky new homophobic tactic would undo all that work, rolling back the clock on civil rights.

It's insane, it's frightening and it'll happen right under our noses unless everyone speaks out to stop it.