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As a black lesbian, I fear Trump is bringing back Jim Crow

As a black lesbian, I fear Trump is bringing back Jim Crow

An African-American drinking at a ‘colored’ water fountain in 1939

As a black lesbian, I feel like we are moving into a new Jim Crow era, with LGBTI Americans suffering under discriminatory laws.

I grew up knowing about racist placards that said ‘Colored Water Fountain’, ‘Waiting Room For Colored Only’, ‘We Serve Whites Only’, and ‘No “N-word” Allowed’, to name a few.

‘Jim Crow’ was an insulting term for Black Americans, during a century where politicians throughout the South ensured there were separate, and unequal, facilities for people of color.

The baker who could deal a huge blow to LGBTI civil rights

Now homophobes are driving a similar agenda.

Last week the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The case is about baker Jack Phillips who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig.

He claimed the religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment meant he could refuse to serve them.

If the justices decide in the baker’s favor, it will be a colossal blow to civil rights gains and state nondiscrimination laws.

It will allow business owners across the states to deny services to LGBTI Americans on the basis of their religious belief.

Trump’s team backs ‘No Gays Allowed’ signs

Trump’s solicitor general, Noel Francisco, has gone even further. He suggested these businesses should hang anti-LGBTI placards stating ‘No Gays Allowed’ to warn us to stay away.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified the president’s position at a White House Press Conference. She said: ‘The president certainly supports religious liberty… I believe that would include that.’

Just like Jim Crow, restrooms are a civil rights battleground again

Since Trump has taken office, he has presided over the gradual erosion of LGBTI civil rights under the guise of religious liberty.

For example, transgender Americans can now not be certain to have access to public lavatories.

It is eerily reminiscent of the last century when Jim Crow laws denied African Americans access to lunch counters, water fountains, libraries, gas stations, theaters, and restrooms, to name a few. Signs that read ‘whites only’ prohibited entry.

In Jim Crow America, restrooms were a hot-button issue. And today they have become a battleground for equal treatment once more.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on national origin, race, hue, gender, and religion. The law mandated desegregation of all public accommodations, including bathrooms.

And a half century later, Obama administration expanded the Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTI Americans.

However, in February Trump’s  administration revoked federal guidelines permitting transgender students from using ‘gender-appropriate facilities’ for their gender identity.

Trump’s double punch to LGBTI Americans

This June Trump paid tribute to the 49 LGBTI victims of last year’s Pulse Nightclub massacre. But he failed to issue a proclamation for Pride Month.

And, in July, LGBTI Americans received a one-two punch from the Trump administration.

The first punch was President Trump’s ban on transgender service members in the military. Again, that was eerily reminiscent of when the military segregated its ranks on the basis of race.

In his inimitable style of communicating to the American public, the order came in the form of a tweet. Ironically, Trump’s tweet came on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive order desegregating the US military in 1948.

The second punch occurred on the same day of Trump’s ban. The Justice Department filed court papers citing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace but does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is the moment LGBTI-hate groups have fought for

Trump’s ban caught the Pentagon and Capitol Hill off guard. But the announcement was enthusiastically applauded by numerous anti-LGBTI hate groups across the country. After all, they have long advocated for it. They have worked hard promulgating the fear that healthcare services to our transgender troops would gravely hurt defense spending.

In an ad by the Family Research Council, for example, Chelsea Manning was pictured next to a military jet. The advert posed the question ‘Which one do you want our military to be spending your tax dollars on – transgender surgeries or equipment?’

On 11 December, a federal judge denied request of the Trump administration to delay enlistment deadline for transgender Americans into the military.

As a married lesbian, I am immensely thankful I reside in Massachusetts. As such, I have some protection if Trump tries to overturn Obergefell v Hodges, the historic US Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

LGBTI married couples outside of my state would be in an even worse position.

Haters are plotting ‘the end of gay rights’

And this right to marry faces a real threat. In a Trumped-up Supreme Court there is talk among Christian evangelicals of eroding Obergefell v Hodges.

Rebecca Buckwaler-Poza predicted ‘the end of gay rights’ in the June issue of Pacific Standard Magazine.

‘The Supreme Court can significantly undermine LGBT rights even without reversing a single case,’ Buckwaler-Poza wrote.

‘Right now, the federal prohibition against sex discrimination doesn’t bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equal Protection Clause affords no specific protections for LGBT people, as it does for members of groups defined by race or nationality.

‘The court can strip the rights to intimacy and marriage of their meaning, carving away gradually and masking the magnitude of changes by phrasing them in arcane legal terms.’

Meanwhile, a movement has been afoot in state legislatures across the country for some time now to disenfranchise LGBTQ Americans.

These Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are a backlash to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers used them to codify LGBTI discrimination and justify denying us services on state and local levels. Sadly Trump is in lock-step with these discriminatory practices. Jim Crow is already here.