Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Our existence is a partisan issue

One of the things we look at regularly in political science is why people are partisan — that is, why do they declare themselves a Democrat or a Republican, and then vote for that party? The surprising answer is that it has very little to do with policy. In actual fact, scholars of political psychology have shown that, in many cases, human traits that apply to groups apply in the exact same way when it comes to parties. Which is why some of our heterosexual friends can be Republicans but still believe in our rights to live as members of society.

What they forget, of course, is that governing does not work like that. Republicans in government pass and enforce policies designed to absolutely fuck the LGBTQ community up. Here in Georgia, the Republican-dominated Legislature thinks we are unfit to be parents. In Texas, the Republican state government has gone out of its way to ensure married same-sex couples don’t get the same spousal benefits as straight people. The recent federal ban on transgender troops by the Republican president is a straight declaration that transgender people are not welcome in governing institutions — especially in a job so terribly paid that it is more akin to a patriotic vocation. Many Republican states have passed laws to keep transgender people at home under the guise of bathroom safety, because there is pretty much no more dangerous place for a transwoman than an all-male restroom.

The flipside is that Democrats have screwed us around to a far lesser degree in recent years. In state government and city councils around the nation, Democrats have put LGBT rights on the front of the agenda. Here in Georgia, it is the blue counties where local governments have moved on the pittance they are permitted by state lawmakers. Nationwide it was a Democratic administration that ridded us of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and state governments that pushed for civil rights reform that allowed our community to marry who we wanted, and you know, were able to see them on their deathbeds in hospital.

In total, however, it means that our entire existence is pretty much a partisan issue. That is great if you live in Atlanta and your mayor is prepared to fire the transphobic fire chief. It also means that at some point, a Democrat will win and we can enjoy some semblance of assuredness that we are valued members of society. But that waiting is a penance foisted on us through no fault of our own. While we wait for our full spectrum of rights, many of our friends and family will lose their jobs, or become homeless, or will die at the hands of bigots. Some of us will be heckled and be unable to do anything about it. While we waited for Obergefell vs Hodges, many people who would have been married became single because their partner died. We waited and waited and waited because public opinion was taking its slow trip toward us.

That wait is grotesquely unfair. It exists because our rights are partisan. Our Republican friends who love us but still vote for the Pences and Cruzs and Rubios of this world are ensuring we wait even longer.