A Take-What-We-Can-Get 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we can count on Congressional Republicans to be doing the important work of the American people.

Ha, just kidding. They are currently focused on… impeaching President Joe Biden based on zero evidence. They’ve got conspiracy theories, wishful thinking and a desire to avenge Donald Trump for his impeachments (twice!) for very real and actual crimes.

There are certainly things not to like about Biden and his administration, but “I just don’t like the guy” isn’t a great basis for impeachment. It’s bullshit like this that drowns out legitimate concerns about Biden as president, which prevents any productive dialog about what the United States wants in a leader.

In other words, same shit, different day!

Democrats have recently been taking to calling Republicans “unserious.” Granted, it’s largely true. Republicans have shown over and over again they aren’t interested in governing and DGAF about the vast majority of Americans. But I don’t think it’s the sick burn Democrats want it to be.

Because the things that Republicans are serious about, they are very serious! I mean, maybe their nationwide crusade to ban books about racism and LGBTQ+ issues is some kind of big joke that I’m just too dense to understand, but I don’t think so! Same with their laser focus on dehumanizing transgender people, banning abortion, rolling back voting rights, advancing authoritarianism and making the rich richer.

If what Democrats mean is that Republicans are hateful creeps with fascist aspirations then they should say as much. “Unserious” just doesn’t convey how extreme and dangerous the Republican Party is right now.

In other news, Pope Francis XVII has given the go-ahead for priests to bless same-sex unions. That may sound like progress, but here’s the kicker: Those blessings are allowed “so long as the blessing does not resemble a wedding.” So in the eyes of the Catholic Church, same-sex marriage is still a sin, but also priests should be nicer to same-sex couples. A lose-win, as they say.

According to the Associated Press, “[B]lessings in question must not be tied to any specific Catholic celebration or religious service” and “cannot use set rituals or even involve the clothing and gestures that belong in a wedding.”

The whole point, you see, is that “people seeking a transcendent relationship with God and looking for his love and mercy shouldn’t be held up to an impossible moral standard to receive it.”

I know that for some people this feels like progress, but really it just seems like we’re Pope-washing making LGBTQ+ people second-class citizens.

As the AP puts it, “The Vatican holds that marriage is an indissoluble union between man and woman. As a result, it has long opposed same-sex marriage and considers homosexual acts to be ‘intrinsically disordered.’ Nothing [has changed] that teaching.”

Still, in a year that has had a lot of bad LGBTQ+ news, I suppose we have to take what we can get. Especially since 2024 is a presidential election year, and you can bet your copy of Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” (which is a really good book, by the way, and is making conservative heads explode all over the country. All the more reason to buy a copy) that LGBTQ+ issues and people will be used extensively as political cannon fodder.

It’s time to put on your mental/emotional armor to protect yourself from the coming onslaught. Surround yourself with a healing ring of light, even if that means you have to take the string of lights off the nearest Christmas tree and wrap yourself in those. Whatever it takes to make it through.

We’re definitely at a precipice in American politics. What happens in 2024 could well define what happens for the rest of our lives should the Republican Party re-take the White House, win a majority in the U.S. Senate and widen their majority in the House. So no matter what, you have to get involved somehow. Whether that’s just voting (the bare minimum, but a very important thing!), donating to a candidate you believe in, volunteering for a campaign to make phone calls or knocking doors, organizing voters or all of the above, there is something all of us can do to save democracy.

Granted the system we have is imperfect — very much so! — but Republicans aren’t proposing something better. They’re proposing that they get to throw away the rules and seize power. And that does not bode well for the future of LGBTQ+ people and allies in this country.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.