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Texas GOP is more extreme than ever on LGBTQ rights. It's happening within a national GOP that's been radicalized.
The Texas GOP platform supports "Reintegrative Therapy" for gay and trans people. Anyone who thinks the GOP hasn't declared war on all LGBTQ rights is deluding themselves
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By now you’ve heard about the Texas GOP platform, unveiled at its convention over the weekend. And while some might say, “Well, that’s Texas!”, I’m here to tell you that it’s much worse than you think — and that it has major implications nationally.
It’s true that for years the Texas GOP platform has been opposed to same-sex marriage, even as millions of Americans have embraced it — polls show huge majorities support marriage equality — and the Supreme Court made it the law of the land in 2015. And for years, the Texas GOP has been horrifically anti-trans, even as polls increasing show support for transgender Americans.
So, we’ve never expected much from the Texas GOP, which has been very slow to emerge from the Neanderthal era. But this year the Texas GOP, meeting at their convention over the weekend, went far backwards, not only opposing same-sex marriage but demonizing homosexuality itself, in a throwback to the 1950s:
"Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the platform document reads. “We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.’
This is included in a section titled, “Homosexuality and Gender Issues,” in which transgender people are viciously attacked, as the platforms condemns all “efforts to validate transgender identity” and opposes any and all gender re-affirming care. The platform repeatedly defines gender as only including “biological” males and females. And it promotes attempts to force people who are gay, bi or trans to live as heterosexual and cisgender — calling it “Reintegrative Therapy”:
Therapists, psychologists, and counselors licensed with the state of Texas shall not be forbidden or penalized by any licensing board for practicing Reintegrative Therapy or other counseling methods when counseling clients of age with gender dysphoria or unwanted same-sex attraction.
More than half the states and Washington DC have fully or partially banned dangerous “conversion therapy” programs for minors, as this quack science has been shown to do enormous damage. Those on the right promoting “Reintegrative Therapy,” however, actually distinguish it from conversion therapy — clearly knowing conversion therapy has taken a huge hit. But it’s just a repackaging, pushing the same garbage.
This is from the Reintegrative Therapy website, founded by the notorious Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, one of the earliest purveyors of the pseudoscientific “treatment” to “convert” gays:
Reintegrative Therapy® is entirely separate from conversion therapy.
Reintegrative Therapy® uses established, evidence-based interventions, the same interventions used by other clinics throughout the world to treat trauma and addiction. As these dynamics are resolved, the client's sexuality can sometimes change on its own. Reintegrative Therapy® uses the same approach, regardless of the client's sexual orientation or gender. For example, a female client with binge eating disorder and male client with sexually compulsive behaviors receive the same treatment protocols.
In other words, the same bullshit — and as reckless and dangerous.
Again, the Texas GOP platform has always been extreme, and some of these anti-LGBTQ agenda items are themes we’ve seen before. This year, however, in addition to calling for a referendum on Texas secession from the U.S., the platform also officially doesn’t recognize Joe Biden as president.
The platform itself codifies the Big Lie.
And in that way the Texas GOP isn’t an anomaly, as we’ve seen the Big Lie promoted by Republicans all over the country running in races this fall. On LGBTQ rights, the Texas GOP is similarly emboldened by states that were considered less extreme but are now going to the extremes — such as Florida with its “Don’t say gay” law, now exported to states across the country. If Florida’s going to go that far, the Texas extremists must be thinking, how can Texas allow itself to be outdone? As the Washington Post noted, regarding the national implications:
The rhetoric on gay rights in particular represents a reversal after years of growing comfort within the Republican Party with equal rights for LGBTQ Americans and polls showing large majorities of voters now support same-sex marriage while opposing discrimination.
It comes amid a surge in hate speech and violence directed at LGBTQ people and a new push among staunch conservative circles to attack even the mere mention of sexuality as somehow “grooming” children.
And the national Republican Party is dominated by anti-LGBTQ extremists who push the QAnon-inspired “groomer” lie, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and who get no rebuke from the leadership. Both the House GOP and the Senate GOP are in the grips of Donald Trump and the MAGA movement, which, it’s hard to believe, has become even more extreme and anti-LGBTQ than when Trump himself was in office.
They are using fear and misunderstanding about transgender people, and the vile, old pedophile smears about gay men, to stoke the hate. And Democrats are either stunned by the speed of it or afraid to stand up. National LGBTQ groups even seem stymied, as there’s been little push back at all — at least not loud enough to be heard over the hateful screeds.
And then there’s the Supreme Court, which was reconstituted by Trump as an authoritarian court speaking for a fascistic minority, now set to strip LGBTQ rights one by one. This week a major 6-3 ruling that decided state tuition programs cannot exclude religious schools showed how the court will allow exemptions to those who want to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Justice Sotomayor, writing the dissenting opinion, once again sounded the alarm:
This court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the framers fought to build.
… In just a few years, the court has upended constitutional doctrine, shifting from a rule that permits states to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires states in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.
This ruling will be used to allow any business or landlord to claim an exercise of “religious liberty” to turn away LGBTQ people, and the Supreme Court will rubber stamp it.
And we’e all awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling any day now overturning Roe v. Wade, which will profoundly affect the issue of marriage equality and could see the court eventually send same-sex marriage back to the states, stripping gay and lesbian couples of their rights.
The Texas GOP is among the most extreme state GOP parties in the country, but its lurch even further to the far right is a barometer of what’s happening in the rest of the country in the Republican Party. Trump has emboldened the extreme elements, like the Texas GOP and the sedition caucus in Congress, and radically transformed the Supreme Court.
It’s time now for bold thinking and pushing hard against the corporations funding the extremist politicians. Every major company, from AT&T to Pepsi, gives money to the GOP and its promoters of white supremacy and violence. We need massive protest — beyond boycotts — shaming these companies, at their headquarters, in the streets, at businesses that use their products and services. We need to shame and embarrass their spokespeople, the Hollywood stars and sports figures who do ads for these companies, the people taking a big check from them as the companies promote the haters.
We need a massive, creative response and a movement ready to hit back hard with civil disobedience. This is a pivotal moment like many in the past, such as when the AIDS crisis exploded. Anyone who believes LGBTQ rights are not in grave peril isn’t paying attention.