Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: It’s about more than ‘political differences’

I didn’t think that there could be a group within our community that annoyed me more than the performers over the two stripes Philadelphia added to the rainbow flag, as if that now sacrosanct symbol hasn’t ever been changed (it has), commodified (on myriad occasions) or appropriated (the rainbow police cars – my god). But, when someone tried to murder Republican congressmen two weeks ago, liberals, including in our own community, prostrated themselves so strongly when it came out it was a Democratic voter out to kill Republican officials over “political differences.”

I don’t want anyone to get shot, and that goes from people who dare be black before police all the way up to the president. I am awfully sorry for the victims and their families. But I am quite turned off by the idea that the only difference between me and Steve Scalise is “political differences.” Because in the fight for LGBT+ rights, we carry all of the costs, and those who oppose our right to live openly carry none. Me and the Republican Party do have mere political differences, like school choice, what an appropriate tax rate is, whether or not we should have a buy into Medicare. But, when it comes to me, my husband and our family, our basic day-to-day ability to live rests with people like Steve Scalise: when he wins (and his party controls the whole government), we lose. When we win, his life doesn’t change in the least.

We don’t merely share “political differences” with people who don’t want us to be able to spend time with our spouses in hospital. Scalise’s family was with him while he suffered in hospital after he was shot; in Scalise’s perfect world, we wouldn’t be allowed to visit our shot spouses in the exact same situation. We would also need separate health insurances because government-sanction of one’s relationship is how that is passed around, and we’d have less money to pay for any expenses because we would be paying individual tax rates. And our boss could fire us if he doesn’t like LGBT+ people. If we fix all those holes in the law, Steve Scalise’s life changes not a whit. If we got every right we demand, our opponents’ lives barely change. Instead, because of people like Steve Scalise, we fight about marriage equality on the most ridiculous terms, like that straight marriages are somehow to be affected. Should trans immigrant inmates be treated like human beings, Scalise’s life remains unaffected. If we add resources to fight the slaughter of transwomen, or forbid discrimination in housing laws, or do something to tackle LGBT homelessness, or paint rainbow fucking crosswalks all over America, it does nothing to anyone else.

We bear all of the costs of this. The Steve Scalises of America bear none. This is not a fair fight. It is not a free exchange of ideas. It is sure as hell not a mere political disagreement.

Let me be clear: I do not want anyone shot. Anyone. But I also don’t want Democrats to weakly self-flagellate themselves into pretending there is equitable disagreement between the parties because a nutcase got hold of a gun and targeted the opposition.