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Resisting The Rainbow:
Right-Wing Responses to LGBT Gains

July 19, 2012

There is a new report from the group Political Research Associates (PRA) that looks at recent reactions and campaigns from the right wing against LGBT organizing entitled, Resisting The Rainbow: Right-Wing Responses to LGBT Gains.

Since the 1980s there have been many gains made by the LGBT community across the country, but anti-gay organizations and individuals have not remained silence or complacent in the face of these gains, according to the new report from PRA.

The new report identifies these key aspects of the right wing response to LGBT gains:

  • Conservative religious interests are alive and well, and they continue to transmit homophobic messages.
  • Although the Christian Right is still influential, the political landscape has changed.
  • The use of homophobia as a political tool is still a successful strategy for mobilizing and increasing right-wing political power.
  • The Right has developed a limited, but repeatedly-used, set of homophobic arguments. Many homo-phobic frames get recycled, especially if they were successful in the past.
  • The Right’s anti-LGBT strategies are complex and sophisticated.
  • The current broad coalition on the Right, including the Tea Party, must be taken seriously, especially in the 2012 elections. Not only could the presidency be held by a conservative, but any number of state or local fights could be swayed towards conservative results.
  • Some anti-LGBT organizations have surprising levels of influence.
  • Despite clear indications they are losing the war on LGBT rights, the Christian Right core of the anti-LGBT movement will not soon abandon its opposition.
  • Funding streams for anti-LGBT campaigns continue to come from many of the traditional foundation and individual sources that fund other Religious Right causes, but there are new developments.

The report also includes case studies and profiles of prominent anti-LGBT individuals and organizations.

Of particular importance are the list of recommendations by PRA that current LGBT organizing and campaigns should take to heart. Too often progressive or left groups tend to dismiss the right wing, particularly the religious right wing, as just crazy, but this is a mistake. These recommendations provide a useful framework for long-term strategizing.

  1. Keep the long view. It is tempting to focus only on the LGBT issue of the moment, whether it be legislative, judicial, or cultural. Such threats necessarily require immediate resources and creative tactics. But it is also necessary to look beyond today’s right-wing campaigns and the next election cycle, to consider the overall context of the LGBT movement, including key trends and future possibilities.
  2. Interpret data about the Right to create a solid analysis that fuels strategic opportunities. So much information is readily available now from a wide array of sources that it is sometimes difficult to separate reliable facts from conclusions based on assumptions. It is vital to screen available information for its dependability, and analyze the data to identify salient issues and frames. Only careful consideration of the Right’s use of frames, both within and outside the anti-LGBT arena, will help activists determine their direction and strength. Funders should support LGBT organizations and their allies to undertake this type of research.
  3. Reevaluate the progressive LGBT movement’ s goals and focus.
  4. Cultivate broader coalitions across issue areas to develop allies, increase support, and contribute to a broader social justice agenda.
  5. Prepare for the inevitable backlash.

This useful and timely report should come as an important asset in the continuing struggle for LGBT and Queer justice no matter where you live.

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