Shifting focus


The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a US group who campaigned unsuccessfully against gay marriage, have decided to turn their attention to another fight. They are now attempting to repeal a new law in California, one that reinforces existing anti-discrimination laws by allowing transgender public school students to choose which bathroom to use and which sports teams to try out for.

This is an interesting turn of events as, up until now, NOM has campaigned on one issue – marriage. Now, it seems to be casting its net wider. Frank Schubert, a seasoned campaigner and spokesperson for NOM, said about the new Californian law: “Now, three months after the Supreme Court let Prop 8 die, they pass a bill like this. We’re way past tolerance and acceptance; we’re onto an attempt to force their agenda on the rest of the states.” (If only the trans community were that powerful!)

There are two things that come out of this news item for me. The first is that, as many of us suspected, a number of those groups opposed to gay marriage are not opposed for deeply held, deeply considered, religious, social, or legal reasons, but for plain, old, phobic reasons. For these groups, gay people and trans people come under the same umbrella. However hard these conservatives argue against equal marriage, whatever rhetoric they use, whatever convoluted arguments they weave, it all comes down to, “they’re not like us so they must be plotting to take our rights from us”, or some such nonsense.

I hasten to add that not everyone who opposes equal marriage is homophobic. Misguided, maybe, but not phobic. And, they would no more think of campaigning against bathroom use by transgender students than accept an invite to the big gay wedding of Uncle Ken and his “friend” Roger.

With the champagne still just about holding its fizz, those toasting successful campaigns to legalise same-sex marriage need to watch their backs. The victories globally of those campaigning for equality mean that there is bound to be a backlash from those who were defeated. I fear this is the start, which is my second point.

The speed with which legislation has been passed by governments to open up the institution of marriage has been amazing, but it has left a lot of people on the losing side feeling like their voices weren’t given a fair hearing, and enhancing their (erroneous) impression that the gay lobby have the ear of politicians. This discontent will have to be vented somewhere, and it is almost inevitable that those bent on denying the LGBT community their civil rights should turn their fire on the weakest (politically), which means the transgender community are likely to be next.

The battle for equal marriage may have been won, but the war is ongoing. I hope that homosexual and bisexual activists will be swift to strengthen the defenses of their transgender brothers and sisters, should a vicious backlash from the successes enjoyed by equality campaigners hit the trans community. Members of the transgender community have stood shoulder to shoulder with those of the LGB community for years. It may be time to ask for that favour to be returned.

Click here to read more about NOM’s disturbing shift in focus.

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