When liberals critique conservatives, the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) rights is often at the forefront. The left seems to believe that they are the only ones capable of being tolerant and accepting of what are considered “alternative lifestyles.”
Mike Lujano and George Lenz would disagree. Two decades ago, they raised a rainbow flag outside of their business in Wheeling, West Virginia. At that point, many in the community may have not recognized the symbol of gay pride. That would change.
The married couple own Edna’s Hair Salon in the industrial town with a population of about 28,000. The two men believed they would be accepted by their neighbors. They never dreamed of how completely their hopes would be realized.
In 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in America. Since then, at least 50 communities have independently added additional measures, further protecting their local LGBT citizens.
The conservative home of Lujano and Lenz recently embraced the trend as well. “We told people this wasn’t a bad place,” said Lujano, “Finally, this confirmed it.”
19 states have nondiscrimination laws in place for the LGBT population. These usually protect against broad prejudices; being fired, denied service in public places, or getting evicted.
West Virginia is one of the 19, the state now has LGBT protections in 10 communities. Those areas are diverse themselves; ranging from the capital of Charleston to Thurmond with a population of only five.
“Those stereotypes are unfortunate,” he said. “It’s possible in many more places than people realize.”
A study by Reuters found that 4 out of 5 large cities, those with populations of 250,00 or more, have supplemental safe-guards in place.
However, big cities do not have the monopoly on tolerance. Of the 50 communities who added securities, over half have populations of less than 35,000, Reuters reported.
In addition, the Reuters study showed something else, assumptions can easily skew numbers. The Equality Federation and the Human Rights Campaign assisted Reuters in compiling some of the data as did the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT think tank. The groups eventually admitted that “some smaller localities may have been inadvertently omitted.”
Clearly, the tolerant left needs some lessons in disregarding stereotypes as well.
Even in Vice President Pence’s home town of Columbus, Indiana, an all-Republican city council responded to criticisms and fixed their laws. The Columbus city council unanimously voted to enact LGBT protections.
Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop explains, “Republicans don’t speak with one voice on this issue. In a small town, you really do live with the laws that you create. It makes it all a little bit more real that we see some people – we actually know them – who might be affected.”
In other words, small towns who don’t consider all their citizens, feel the impact. Whether it is financial or emotional tension, biases affect everyone in communities who are so close-knit.
Mayor Glen Elliot describes the benefits to Wheeling;
“Those of us in the community may not all agree on its morals. What I think is not open for debate is that it’s good for business.”
Obviously businesses are not the only gain, but they are a much-lauded perk. Opposing protection for the LGBT community has drained cities. North Carolina reported losing hundreds of millions of dollars over the transgender bathroom battle. Entertainment events cancelled and job expansions by PayPal and Deutsche Bank were aborted
What will surprise liberals the most is the voting records of these aceepting towns. In the 2016 election, Donald Trump dominated in West Virginia. His crushing win of 42.2 percentage points was higher there than in most states.
The Reuters analysis found that of the 50 communities who added laws, “more than half of those cities and towns are located in counties that backed Trump in November’s election, and all are in states he won.”
Since Trump took almost half of the popular vote and far more than half of the electoral vote, the message from America was clear. Liberals cried, calling the new president a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist.
At least 3 Executive Orders, 2 official proclamations, 6 speeches by the president and vice president, and 2 pieces of pending legislation, specifically relate to minorities or women. These are not the actions of a man who does not care. He and his administration have been more than inclusive.
The conservative communities, whether they supported candidate Trump or not, are stepping up. Despite what liberals claim, the right is not a bunch of ignorant bigots. While generally living up to the “conservative” title in regards to marriage, religion, and families, that does not preclude tolerance or acceptance.