I listen to Breaking Points every day. It’s my favorite political commentary podcast, as it shares both a leftwing and rightwing perspective from hosts who are anti-establishment. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the creators and hosts, Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball, as well as Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky, who were brought on as hosts last year.
In their May 31 Counter Points episode, hosted by Jashinsky and Ball, who was filling in for Grim, they discussed Senator Ted Cruz’ tweet in reaction to a horrific anti-gay bill just signed into law in Uganda, as well as the replies to his tweet.
I’m going to back up a little to explain the law and tweets made in regard to it before going further.
On Memorial Day, the New York Times reported on the president of Uganda signing into law a punitive anti-gay bill. It includes life sentencing for anyone who has gay sex and up to ten years for anyone who attempts to have same-sex relations. Homosexual sexual activity was already illegal in Uganda and punishable by a life sentence under a law that criminalized any sexual activity “against the order of nature.”
The NYT also reported that the law calls for the death penalty for anyone who conducts “acts of same-sex relations with children or disabled people, those carried out under threat or while someone is unconscious.” The Ugandan law refers to this as “aggravated homosexuality.”
Obviously, rape and statutory rape should both be taken seriously and both be heavily prosecuted. The term “aggravated homosexuality,” however, implies that the crime is homosexuality and further promotes the idea that to be gay is to be a pervert and/or predator.
The same day the Times published the story, Republican Senator Ted Cruz shared the article in a tweet, saying, “This Uganda law is horrific & wrong. Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse.” He used the hashtag #LGBTQ
The comments on Cruz’ tweet were largely from Republicans saying that Uganda’s laws are none of his business, that the law serves to protect children, that Uganda is right to pass such a law, etc.
Jenna Ellis, one of former president Donald Trump’s attorneys who promoted the claim that the 2020 election was stolen, tweeted in response, “You can condemn a law that imposes the death penalty for homosexuality without being pro or #LGBTQ. Like Bud Light, you should have just said nothing. Not this. For the commenters - I stand with Uganda on this because the definition of “aggravated homosexuality” (subject to the death penalty) is raping children. Why would Cruz be against this anyway?? And what does this have to do with #LGBTQ? Absolutely stupid comment.”
Ball and Jashinsky supported Cruz’ tweet while noting his homophobic beliefs and history.
Ball, a (true) leftist, pointed out the fact that the Republican party has regressed over the past few years on issues related to gay rights, and Jashinsky, a conservative, agreed, saying that the right sees any use of a hashtag like #LBGTQ as a betrayal at this point. (Jashinsky was not saying she subscribes to that view, just that this is how a large portion of the Republican and conservative base sees it.)
I agree with Ball and Jashinsky. However, they failed to truly name the reason the limited progress made in regard to gay and lesbian acceptance within the Republican party has largely been erased over the past few years: trans activism.
In the Breaking Points segment, Ball touched on the fact that the right wing frames its concerns in regard to transgender ideology around how it affects children. Ball has talked about this in the past, as have many other leftists. The mainstream liberal criticism of Republican condemnation of transgender ideology is that Republicans use the way it can harm children as a veil for transphobia. This is often partially true, though it’s also true that mainstream liberals don’t care how trans ideology affects children.
All that said, it tends to be the case that neither mainstream conservatives nor mainstream liberals care about how transgender ideology affects women or gay men and lesbians.
The real reason the progress made in Republican circles in regard to gay and lesbian acceptance has been reversed over the last few years is that trans rights activists have worked for years to tie supposed “trans rights” to gay rights. The anchoring of the “T” to “LGB” has been successful and has given a perceived credence to the rightwing argument that promoting gay rights is a slippery slope.
In an episode of Breaking Points released on Spotify on June 2, Jashinsky pointed out the fact that growing rejection of corporate Pride within the Republican party is rooted in the "T" within LGBTQ. However, the fact that identifying as transgender is in no way related to sexual orientation, (and thus has no place within the gay and lesbian community), was not brought up.
Feminists and gay rights activists have been rightly saying for years that gender ideology will be the end of women’s rights and gay rights. It can be seen on the left in the form of the promotion of men in women’s sports, men in women’s prisons, the idea that a little girl preferring toy cars to dolls makes her a boy, etc. And it can be seen on the right in cries that the legalization of gay marriage is what has allowed transgender ideology to destroy the West’s notion of sex. The reversal of what was the growing acceptance of gay men and lesbians will continue so long as trans-identified individuals are tied to the gay and lesbian community.
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