When asked about the death of Nex Benedict and the reason why the Oklahoma legislature is so obsessed with LGBTQ+ citizens (50 bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community), Republican State Senator Tom Woods (District 4) responded, “We are a religious state and we are going to fight it to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state— we are a moral state.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than “520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills” were introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2023. This is a record.  

Over 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people. These anti-LGBTQ+ bills are bringing to light the eradication beliefs of many within the extreme right wing of the Republican Party.  

State and federal elected leaders from deep red states are ratcheting up their rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community.  ABC News reported last year, “A new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found significantly more incidents of anti-drag protests, threats, and violence than previously reported, with the report adding that anti-drag efforts are accelerating amid growing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment from conservative politicians.”

Last year, Florida Republican State Representative Randy Fine suggested during a defense of his anti-trans bill that the “eradication” of the LGBTQ+ community would be acceptable. The eradication movement advocates for the eradication —at this time, the criminalization—of LGBTQ+ people and their relationships.

As the rhetoric and legislation against LGBTQ+ people intensifies, people of good faith must consistently voice their concerns and outrage. The book of Job declares, “Injustice shuts its mouth” (Job 5:16). The LGBTQ+ community needs advocates to amplify their voices in support of them and decry these evil acts.  

In 1946, after the end of World War II and the atrocities of the Nazi regime emerged, German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller delivered the following words during a sermon: “First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then 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 out for me.”

Understandably, many will hear these comments as an overreaction, but let’s examine the evidence. The late poet Maya Angelou proclaimed, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” When politicians like Woods and Fine publicly voice their eradication rhetoric, sensible and reasonable people should believe them. 

Who would have thought we would witness an insurrection by our fellow citizens? Who would have thought we would have seen the elimination of women’s reproductive rights? Who could have imagined setbacks to civil rights and voter rights?

In each of these incidents, extreme rhetoric preceded these actions. We would be unwise not to believe the likes of Woods and Fine. The extreme right wing of the Republican Party believes what they are saying and will attempt to implement their dangerous ideals.  

If we turn away now, there may not be anyone left to speak out for us when the time comes for our eradication. Therefore, please join me in standing up, speaking out, and stepping forward for those attacked by the powerful and privileged.  

We must join forces before it’s too late.  

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