Headlines get stranger every day. Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson thinks marriage equality could ignite a new civil war. A Texas pastor suggested that opponents of marriage equality should fight until they die.
But who declared this war and who is actually dying? Loads of state legislation justifying discrimination steeped in the guise of faith should give you a clue. But what if the conflict actually takes a violent turn, as the rhetoric suggests? Oh, wait. There already IS a body count. Transgender women of color are murdered at an incredibly high rate. Our community has higher suicide rates because we are coping with lack of acceptance. LGBT students are physically and verbally bullied at high rates in our schools. And let's not forget health disparities.
What are they thinking? One hopes that, as the LGBT community gains legal equality and social affirmation, all these harms will decline. But until that time and likely afterwards, there will be dedicated groups in our country who seem to believe that if life is harder for LGBT people we'll have an incentive to stop being who we are. At the very least, they don't want to support "that lifestyle." So some folks are going to dig in as long as they can.
What can we expect? I think we can expect a RFRA in Tennessee next year. Our opponents are already planning for one. We will probably see bills related to allowing elected and other government officials to opt out of serving our community. We could see more anti-transgender bathroom bills. We may see outbreaks of violence. There are a lot of hate groups in Tennessee, after all. I could tell you that I think it will all even out and get better, and I personally believe it will. But the fact is that I don't know. There could be many years of organized resistance to equality for LGBT people and we could see some reversals.
The Path Forward: I think desperation tactics on the far Right will generate greater connection within the LGBT community and lead to more allies coming out for the cause. So we need to be ready to turn these acts of extreme opposition into a deeper connection for the long haul, a broader and stronger network. We need to build the movement to outlast our legal victories because that is the movement that will outlast the opposition and allow us to thrive.