Opinion: Stay Angry, Be Hopeful

The Supreme Court of the United States is the scariest government body in America. Right now, the justices are examining cases that will determine civil rights for vulnerable communities. Namely, the citizenship question on the 2020 census and the two cases which challenge that LGBTQ+ people fall under seventh amendment protections. But as I worry and fume, I refuse to give into fear.

As a queer person with foreign-born friends, documented and not, I am angry and deeply concerned. If the court rules in favor of the Trump administration, which it very well may, the federal government could ask if a census respondent is a citizen. In this openly xenophobic political regime which eagerly denigrates and mistreats people in need, it’s easy to imagine all non-citizens declining to answer.

The Roberts Court, November 30, 2018. Seated, from left to right: Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel A. Alito. Standing, from left to right: Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Photograph by Fred Schilling, Supreme Court Curator’s Office.

As a result, the census will likely be deeply skewed. Predominantly immigrant communities could be miscounted and subsequently misrepresented in federal funding allocations. And who knows how information on non-citizens would be abused by the Trump administration.

Job discrimination absolutely applies to LGBTQ+ people. Based on the precedence for marriage equality, Supreme Court justices recognize the need for equal treatment of queer minorities. But after the ban on transgender people serving in the American military went through, who knows what could happen.

Transgender people are especially vulnerable in all aspects of life, so a whisper of a potentially bad ruling is understandably scaring them. And under this administration, this case is just one in a litany of heart-stopping uncertainties. There’s 2020 election and anti-abortion crackdowns and the whole we-have-ten-years-to-slow-climate-change-or-we’re-doomed thing.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell

It’s the nightmare news hour every morning. Whose human dignity is next?

I call and sometimes write letters to my local and state representatives. Since the 2018 midterms turned Indiana blood-red, I feel like I’m shouting at a brick wall. Despondence creeps up on me. I’m quite powerless in the context of these court rulings. No words I could put to paper would be of consequence.

Then I remember how Americans got into this mess: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell lead the charge to prevent Merrick Garland’s confirmation in 2016. Flagrant undermining of the American democratic system to ensure conservative reign for a generation.

I become incensed. Senator McConnell is just a case study in old white men in power thinking black and brown and female and queer lives are unequal to their own. I surge past hopelessness and land square in righteous indignation at the threat against human rights.

Even if it does nothing, calling, writing, knocking on doors, and keeps me hopeful. Rather than lie down and let even more vulnerable people take it, I would rather channel my anger and risk compassion fatigue. Acting on hope is the simplest and most vital thing to surviving an onslaught.

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