The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Assaults on Gay People = Assaults on Us All

Jun 12, 2023

One out of five assaults in this country targets gay and transgender people. In the past two years, at least 15 states have passed laws preventing some health care for gay or transgender people. Only six months ago, five people were murdered in a shooting at a gay bar in Florida.

And twelve states still have laws on the books to criminalize sexual acts between consenting adults. Two states recently passed laws banning books in schools or libraries with openly gay characters or books that talk about the discrimination against them.

Although the majority in this country have supported laws to allow same-sex marriage, a minority insults, degrades and criminalizes LGBTQ people and denies them their basic human rights.

Where does this push toward a less tolerant society come from? First, tolerance has not always been the norm. It took more than 100 years and decades of fighting for black people to gain the voting rights they were guaranteed after the Civil War. The black movement of the 1950s and 60s inspired the women’s movement, and also movements for gay rights, Native American rights and an anti-Viet Nam war movement.

That period of tolerating differences ended when the economic situation began to slide downhill. Since the 1970s, at least two generations of working people have seen their standard of living decline, their wages eaten up by rising costs, their children unable to find good-paying jobs with benefits. More intolerance is one result.

Politicians have pushed to make divisive strategies work for them, appealing to voters with religious right-wing rhetoric against gays, against black people, against immigrants, against women.

A Lutheran minister imprisoned by the Nazis wrote after World War II on how divisions prevent us from defending ourselves:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”