I Am the Ghost Of Christmas Future: Here’s What Might Be For LGBTQ America

In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ immortal indictment of capitalism, the mean-spirited Ebenezer Scrooge meets three ghosts on Christmas Eve, who terrorize him into redemption from his evil ways. In perhaps the most telling exchange of the story, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Future, whose grim visage portends an ignominious end for the miserly old financier. “Are these the shadows of things that must be,” Scrooge implores the silent apparition, “or only what might be?” The ghost, of course, offers no opinion, and Scrooge is left to wrestle with that question even as vignettes of his own doom are presented to him.

Like the foreboding spirit of the classic holiday tale, I, too, am now putting on my shroud of sackcloth to show you a future for LGBTQ America which, I hope, will terrify you and every other thinking registered voter, gay or straight, into going directly to the polls on November 3, and voting as though your future depended on it. Unlike Dickens’ silent harbinger, however, I’m gonna be as loud as I possibly can. Here is how the shape of tomorrow might well be. As things stand right now, President Trump, easily the most homo- and transphobic of all presidents, has been steadily building the foundations for removing LGBTQ people from the ranks of our society.

Consider that, to date, Trump has summarily ordered the mass discharge of all transgender soldiers and sailors from the US military, removed all LGBTQ content from federal government websites, announced his beefed-up Denial Of Care Rule which permits doctors and hospitals to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients based on their “moral objection” against doing so (the courts have stopped this — for now), and reversed Obama on healthcare for transgender individuals. All this, of course, is in addition to Trump’s choice of running mate, former Indiana governor Mike Pence, who famously signed a ‘Turn Away The Gays” bill into law back in 2015.

All that is prologue. Let me now point my bony fingers towards the darkness that could be our future, starting with the present. Earlier this year, Trump had Solicitor General Noel Francisco brief the Supreme Court in a series of cases involving LGBTQ people and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Trump administration’s argument is that LGBTQ people are not protected by the Civil Rights Act, because the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not included in the original language of the law. Therefore, Trump posits, it should be legal to fire someone just because they are gay, lesbian, or transgender. The Supreme Court will deliver its ruling in the three cases involved in this question next June, well into the election season, and after both parties’ nominees are apparent. Should the jurists rule in favor of Trump and the defendants (which I think his stacked, conservative Court will), the decision will set up a pretext to enable discrimination rivaling the worst of Jim Crow, against LGBTQ people in America.

When LGBTQ Americans can’t get hired, find an apartment or house, get lifesaving medical care, or lose their jobs because of who we are or who we love, that will be a big step towards the kind of systematic extirpation from society which, history teaches us, happened in pre-WWII Nazi Germany. Should Trump be re-elected to a second term, he will be completely unrestrained in his actions against the LGBTQ community. That inevitably leads to the most terrifying of possibilities for us. Consider that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been severely ill with pancreatic cancer, is likely to retire early in a second Trump term, opening the door for another right-wing nomination and confirmation, giving the Supreme Court a 6–3 conservative supermajority. That will make it fairly easy for Trump to set his sights on first overturning Obergefell v. Hodges and Windsor, the cases that made marriage equality a reality in the United States, ending our marriages, and then he will make criminals of us all again, just because we’re not straight or cis.

The broadside Trump will aim at us in the Supreme Court will be directed against Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 decision which held that laws enforced against a specific class of Americans, for consensual, adult sexual activities that are perfectly legal for another class of Americans, were unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. The police could no longer arrest you for merely being gay or having sex with a person of the same gender as you. Subsidiary ordinances prohibiting public wearing of gender non-conforming attire were concomitantly struck down by this ruling. Just in case you think we can’t go back to the days before the Stonewall Rebellion, when we had to hide our true selves from everybody, and suffer raids by the authorities that would destroy our lives, consider that the Texas GOP still opposes both same-sex marriage and ‘homosexual behavior’. An emboldened Trump, with his faithfully homophobic vice-president by his side, will eagerly pursue this agenda, which his handpicked Supreme Court will endorse by judicial fiat. Our long march from Stonewall to now will then be officially over.

Are these dire portents I have shown you the shadows of what must be, or only that which might be? Like the ghoul that haunted old Ebenezer Scrooge, on that question I shall carefully remain silent. The answer is up to you, and whether you and all other voters of good conscience and true, find their way to the polls next fall. That, and only that, will bring us a Scrooge-like deliverance from a horrifyingly scary future.



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Nathan James

Nathan James

Nathan James is an LGBTQ, journalist, playwright, and radio personality. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/nathanjamesFB, or on Twitter as @RealNathanJames