Why Are Conservatives So Threatened by Equality?

It’s the toxic and irrational fear that more freedom for LGBTQ Americans infringes on their own.

As we saw with the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, conservatives love to talk about freedom. Without being clear about their intentions, however, they limit the number of Americans who can experience the freedoms they demand by being contemptuous of our founding ideals about equality. In other words, they want a freedom for me, but not for thee.

In a recent ad put out by the Biden campaign, the candidate says that “the battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years; a tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.” That same tug of war has been waged on behalf of equality for other groups—such as women, those who are differently abled, and LGBTQ Americans. Whenever gains are made on behalf of equality, cries have gone out that they infringe on the freedom of others.

That is precisely what is happening among some conservatives following the ruling by the Supreme Court that applies prohibitions against discrimination to LGBTQ Americans. Writing at The Federalist, Joy Pullmann comes right out and says that the word “equality” has become a totalitarian weapon. That is a stunning statement when you consider the fact that this country’s Declaration of Independence states that the concept that “all men are created equal” is a self-evident truth. And yet for Pullman, to apply that truth to those she disapproves of is to wield a totalitarian weapon.

Pullmann goes on to engage in a bit of a freakout, suggesting that the confirmation of equality for LGBTQ Americans could mean the end of civilization as we know it.

[T]he U.S. Supreme Court called a man a woman, possibly leading to eventually forcing everyone else to do so also. The ruling will lead to a tsunami of polarizing court cases and further degradation of Americans’ natural rights to free speech, to free association, and to worshipping God as their consciences require…

That two-thirds of our nation’s highest court clearly despise the Constitution and the way of life it protects, and which it is their sole job to defend, may be yet another indication that the United States we know and love is heading into a dark night of oblivion, like all empires before it.

Daniel Horowitz joins Pullman in engaging the same kind of fear-mongering we saw back when the Equal Rights Amendment was under discussion. We were told that to merely codify the equality of women would wreck havoc on our society, with lots of talk about what that meant for bathrooms. Now we are told similar stories about how “barring a male who says he is a female from an all-girls sports team, bathroom, or locker room now constitutes sex-based discrimination.” But Horowitz reaches the pinnacle of fear-mongering with this one.

What happens when the next letters of the alphabet get codified into the sacrilege of the sexual behavior legal protections, such as “N” for nudity and “P” for pedophilia?

“My sexual orientation is to be with children.”…

You might laugh, but at the speed with which transgenderism became in vogue, there is nothing stopping more sexual fetishes from joining the quasi “legal” distinction with a fancy acronym.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that for people like Horowitz, their homophobia has always been expressed by linking any non-heterosexual orientation to pedophilia. That will obviously be extended to their transphobia.

None of these things that conservatives are throwing out there to scare people are new. We’ve heard them all before during those inflection points when this country struggled with the possibility of extending equality to a group of people who had previously been excluded. The privileged have always pushed back with cries about how the equality of others will infringe on their own freedoms. But it’s a lie—always has been.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.