Over just the past week, there have been many LGBT suicides highlighted in the news. The Advocate says they were "13-year olds Asher Brown and Seth Walsh, 15-year-old Billy Lucas, and 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, all subjected to antigay harassment in school." This, of course, happens every week. We just happened to watch it play out this time.
I want legislators to know that this is what their legislation leads to. Laws that you write that are specifically designed to harm a class of people will make it a whole lot easier to facilitate the destruction of those people. We are in an election year in which LGBT people are pressing hard for answers and for assurances that our needs will be met with this new crop of elected congresspeople. This is why. This is not a political game for us. We’re seeing our friends and neighbors get terrorized and die just because the government won’t protect gay people.
And I’m not just asking congresspeople to work on anti-bullying legislation. That would be great but it’s gotten much deeper than that. When a class of people grows up knowing they can’t even serve in the military, when they grow up knowing they can’t get married, it tears at them every day of their lives. Feelings of depression and isolation, those are just the start. We are targeted by our own government and we feel targeted every day. Tell me you could live with that. . . .
The truth is that if the government wants to end LGBT suicides they need to start by looking at how laws and institutions are designed to target us. We are denied military service because of some erroneous and harmful beliefs. We are denied marriage and other rights simply as a way to punish us for being LGBT. That’s the rationale for denying us marriage. Straight marriage is "better" and more sacrosanct. Well tell LGBT people for our whole lives that we are less than someone else because of a biological factor we cannot change and see our confidences wrecked before your eyes.
When LGBT people are targeted just for being LGBT by our government, it tells others that they, too, can target us and the government won’t do much to stop them because they hate us too. People feel empowered to attack not only the weakest among us but especially those that everyone else already hates. Bullies want easy targets. They want to attack those who won’t put up much of a defense and won’t engender a defense among many people watching the bullying. LGBTs fit both of those handily, thanks in part to the government assisting the bullies. Nobody feels compelled to defend a hated and targeted minority. The government doesn’t even bother to do that in most cases, at best, and at worst they are the bullies.
There is simply no path to defense of LGBTs without eliminating government targeting and punishment of LGBT people. Anything else is just a stopgap until these bigger issues are settled and the bullying, the abuse, the suicides will keep happening under your watch. Do legislators want that? Isn’t it time to come out in favor of ending government punishment of LGBT people?
Scottie Thomaston (indiemcemopants) is a 26-year-old Alabama blogger who has written about politics on various blogs since age seventeen. A disabled, ‘out’ gay man, his principal themes have been LGBT rights, torture, NSA spying and the challenges of disability. His pieces have appeared on Daily Kos (where he also moderates a community series on disability), Firedoglake; and on his own blog, "Ignorance is…" The quality of his writing earned him a 2010 Netroots Nation scholarship from Democracy For America and a citation in the New York Times Opinionator column. He is actively building his career as a professional new media journalist.
You can find him on Twitter: @indiemcemopants