While it is no surprise that this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference was rife with anti-gay rhetoric, what was even more troubling was the framing of that rhetoric. For conservatives, social issues like marriage and discrimination are mere concepts, and throughout the conference they demonstrated their ability to discuss them as if LGBT people do not even exist.
Last week’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional was a frequent subject throughout the weekend, but not with any concern for the couples seeking to marry. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) teamed up with retired game show host Chuck Woolery to dismiss the decision, promoting the idea that the people’s vote is all that matters and “Majority rules.” Woolery even went as far as to reject all civil rights, claiming he’s discriminated against because he’s old and “a one percenter.” National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman also claimed the Prop 8 ruling will have “catastrophic consequences for civil society.”
Others at the conference expressed that bullying and violence against LGBT people should persist. The President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) attacked the United Nations for urging countries to protect LGBT people from persecution and execution, suggesting that “their theory of international law is done by lying, coercion, and trickery.” Focus on the Family’s Candi Cusman, meanwhile, continued her crusade against anti-bullying efforts, suggesting that “sexual advocacy” groups were hijacking the safe school message to indoctrinate young people. At no point did they express concern for the actual victims of harassment or acknowledge that the harassment was even taking place. Tea Party activist Kevin Jackson didn’t hesitate to further demonize LGBT people by claiming the Left has “changed the definition of pedophilia.”
All of this rhetoric fed into the weekend’s condemnation of America’s diversity. For example, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and a panel of white nationalists discussed how “the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American identity.” It’s no wonder conservatives are so unsympathetic to the plight of LGBT people — they refuse to admit we even exist.