Several members of the Americans United staff were at Capital Pride in Washington, D.C., yesterday where we had an informational table. We distributed AU literature, stickers, fans and other goodies and talked with attendees.
We had a steady stream of visitors all day. I worked the late shift, 5-7 p.m., and folks were coming up to the table right until the end of the festival. My favorite visitors were the ones who would walk by, glance at the large AU sign and come rushing over saying something like, “Yes! Yes!” or “We need this now more than ever!”
We signed up hundreds of new supporters and had many interesting conversations. I was heartened by the number of people (especially young folks) who just seemed to instinctively get why separation of church and state is relevant to them. Most members of the LGBTQ community know full well that their rights are under attack by President Donald Trump and the Religious Right and that only a decent distance between religion and government can fend off that aggressive religio-political movement.
For those who don't immediately see the connection, I sometimes tell them to imagine a literal brick wall in their minds. On top of that well rests lots of issues – LGBTQ rights, access to legal abortion, women’s rights, access to birth control, public education, the rights of members of minority faiths and the rights of non-believers, freedom of expression, the right to be served by secular businesses, the right to access health care without religious interference, etc. That wall separates church and state. If it is undermined to point that it collapses, all of those issues resting on top of it will fall too.
As I said, many of our visitors got this. I talked with an older gentleman who told me he is an artist. He explained how difficult it was in the 1950s to create anything edgy that challenged the prevailing norms of that time, which were anchored in a white, Christian, conservative, male-dominated culture. He said he’s happy we have a freer attitude now, but he worries about the future.
I don’t blame him. Religious Right organizations are emboldened by the Trump administration and are pursuing an aggressive agenda through Project Blitz. Americans United is working hard to expose Project Blitz and oppose its bad legislative proposals. We’re also taking on the Trump administration in court, with eight lawsuits. (Read about our latest suit here, challenging the administration’s noxious Denial of Care Rule.)
These are difficult times, but yesterday I could sense the power of a growing backlash. People have had enough and want to fight back. They’re looking for Americans United to lead the way.
And lead we will – because we know the answer to these troubling times: separation of church and state. It should be applied liberally.
(Photo: Staffers at Americans United's booth at Capital Pride.)