State Rep. Leslie Herod precisely summed up state and national cankers that resulted in five people being murdered and dozens more injured Sunday because of spite for who they are — and were.
“We must stop driving the hate-filled rhetoric that gives license to the dehumanization of our community,” said Leslie Herod, a Denver Democratic state lawmaker and mayoral candidate. Herod attended high school in Colorado Springs and is the first openly gay, Black woman elected to the State House. “Such hate combined with laws that make access to firearms far too easy have only one result. I wish I could say it was unbelievable, but that is not the case. Instead it is all too predictable.”
Herod is right.
Americans here and across the nation use religion to cloak their bigotry and disdain for people who are gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual.
Even worse are those who blanket their bigotry and hatred in patriotism.
It’s not just morally obscene, it’s deadly.
Ostracizing, bullying and abusing LGTBQ people isn’t novel in the history of bigotry. Nearly everyone who isn’t Christian, white and Protestant has been subjected to gruesome generations of abuse. Many still are.
But while laws and public sentiment have for generations sought to at least root out systemic and legalized bigotry, that’s not been the case for gay or trans Americans.
Large segments of America believe that our institutionalized protection from a state religion is a defense and justification for their bigotry and hatred toward LGTBQ citizens.
Political leaders like GOP Congressperson Lauren Boebert regularly behave like self-righteous tyrants, bludgeoning all of us with their homophobia and antipathy for trans Americans.
In 2021, Boebert praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ success at signing the so-called “don’t say gay” law in that state, prohibiting LGTBQ issues from being discussed in public schools.
“When we take back the House, Florida’s education system is the model for the nation. We’re going to save our nation from the ‘woke’ curse on education,” she said in a tweet, according to a Sentinel story about the recent mass murder at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
She and others use “woke” as a bludgeon against Americans who demand not just tolerance for all races and sexual identities, but acceptance.
Horrifically, Boebert has regularly accused LGTBQ people and liberals of “grooming” children to become gay, being especially critical of popular drag-queen reading events at local libraries.
“Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars,” she tweeted during a flash rant this past summer.
Also this summer, after learning about a Western Slope drag queen inclusivity reading event, “Sending a message to all the drag queens out there: stay away from the children in Colorado’s Third District!”
Taunts and similar abuse from right-wing politicians, and TV and radio personalities, normalize and legitimize for some the abuse and even the murder of LGTBQ people by making them less than non-LGTBQ people, and often even less than human. Bigotry, legitimized by some political and religious leaders, and even the courts, created a perfect environment for Sunday’s gruesome murders, coupled with an obsession with guns. It’s an obsession shared often among those who struggle with LGTBQ bigotry.
Just like racist bigots found comfort in the courts to prevent Black Americans and other people of color from renting hotel rooms, dining in restaurants and even buying a home, some state laws and errant courts allow this anti-gay bigotry to thrive as a test against religious rights.
State and federal lawmakers must shore up legislation ensuring equal rights are equally applied to LGTBQ Americans, and that gun control laws — and enforcement — pull back access to firearms by people who are clearly a danger to themselves and others.
And all of us must call out the bigotry and spite propagated by Boebert and those like her.
Colorado’s first trans state lawmaker had this sound advice for Boebert after she tweeted on Sunday “thoughts and prayers” and her shock about the Club Q shooting.
“Thanks for the ‘thoughts and prayers’ but that does nothing to offset the damage that you directly did to incite these kinds of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community,” state Rep. Brianna Titone tweeted in response. “You spreading tropes and insults contributed to the hatred for us. There’s blood on your hands.”
Boebert, and several like her, were recently re-elected to their state or federal positions. It will be imperative for constituents and the media to hold them accountable for their dangerous charges and actions.