Republican assaults on LGBTQ+ Americans are failing in court

By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, June 29, 2023.

As we draw to the close of Pride Month, attacks against the LGBTQ+ community from right-wing pols and their followers should shock the conscience. The Anti-Defamation League published a report finding that “between June 2022 and April 2023, ADL and GLAAD documented at least 356 anti-LGBTQ+ extremist and non-extremist incidents motivated by hate across the United States.”

By one count, 83 anti-transgender bills have already passed this year. The ACLU is tracking 491 bills targeting LGBTQ+ Americans. And, unsurprisingly, support for samesex marriage among Republicans has plunged 7 points in a single year, according to Gallup.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential aspirant, seems to be making a career out of LGBTQ+ persecution. Last month, he expanded the notorious “don’t say gay” bill. “The new measure prohibits sexual orientation or gender identity instruction in prekindergarten through eighth grade, restricts reproductive health education in sixth through 12th grade, and requires that reproductive health instruction ‘be age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” NBC News reported. It mandates that schools teach pronouncements (e.g., gender is binary and immutable) that are scientifically inaccurate. DeSantis also signed bills barring transgender people from using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity, and another banning children from attending drag performances.

Sadly, politicians do this because there is a market for it.

While right-wing politicians and their followers wage their hate campaigns, courts have frequently and consistently rebuked attacks against the LGBTQ+ community. Previously, I wrote about a federal court in Tennessee that struck down a ban on drag performances. More recently, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down a Florida law that attempted to ban Medicaid payments for transgender health care. And in Arkansas, federal district court Judge James M. Moody Jr. struck down a bill that banned transgender care for youths despite having parental consent. (So much for parental rights.)

Moody’s opinion was noteworthy for its granular discussion of medical data, standards of care and expert testimony regarding transgender care. The court concluded, “Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the State undermined the interests it claims to be advancing.”

Moody continued, “Further, the various claims underlying the State’s arguments that the Act protects children and safeguards medical ethics do not explain why only gender-affirming medical care — and all gender-affirming medical care — is singled out for prohibition. The testimony of well-credentialed experts, doctors who provide gender-affirming medical care in Arkansas, and families that rely on that care directly refutes any claim by the State that the Act advances an interest in protecting children.”

As right-wing politicians such DeSantis continue to pander to hate and ignorance, at least the courts remain a bulwark for freedom and equal protection. The fight to preserve those values continues.