Gay hiking

Patriot Front is part of a larger anti-gay and anti-transgender movement

OPINION AND COMMENT

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The arrest last weekend of 31 Patriot Front members suspected of conspiring to riot at a gay pride picnic in a park in Coeur d’Alene was the latest in a series of recent anti-LGBTQ incidents in June, gay pride month.

A few weeks earlier, Idaho Rep. Heather Scott invited members of the Panhandle Patriots to the stage at a political rally to promote a “Gun d’Alene” event scheduled to coincide with the same Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene.

“We intend to confront these people,” an unidentified member of the Panhandle Patriot told Scott’s rally. “A line must be drawn in the sand.”

Boise pastor Joe Jones of the Shield of Faith Baptist Church was recorded giving a sermon saying that God wants to “put all gay people to death. … These people know they deserve death.

Pride flags have been flown on Harrison Boulevard in Boise, the second year this has happened.

Anti-gay and anti-transgender sentiment seems to be on the rise.

And it’s not just the aggression of groups like Patriot Front. Unfortunately, anti-gay and anti-transgender sentiment is coming out of the shadows in the back of a U-Haul truck and into state legislatures.

The Florida Legislature passed its “don’t say gay” bill, banning public school teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Idaho Legislature is in tears, becoming one of the first states in 2020 to pass a law banning transgender girls and women from competing in women’s and women’s sports, a bill now replicated in other states .

This year, the Idaho legislature failed to ban the practice of youth conversion therapy, a practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year, the House passed a bill that would have banned doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to young people. The House also passed a bill that would have criminalized librarians for “objectionable” material, which ostensibly targets books with LGBTQ content.

Republican lawmakers in Idaho have sought to strip funding from Idaho public television, with one lawmaker citing a lesbian couple on the children’s show “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

The revelation of the Patriot Front’s failed plot last weekend is a good thing. This group operated in the shadows, and most people across the country have never heard of it. Bringing them to light exposes their dangerous, white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ beliefs. It also perhaps explains the thinking behind some of the most common efforts to attack gay and transgender rights.

As Kate Bitz, program manager at the Western States Center, told Idaho Statesman reporter Sally Krutzig, the Patriot Front’s philosophy is tied to replacement theory propaganda, and that includes homosexuality.

“They of course have a history of anti-LGBTQ-plus rhetoric, Bitz said in a phone interview with Krutzig. “So one of their slogans using propaganda imagery is, ‘Strong families make strong nations,’ with this idea that a strong family is a heterosexual white cisgender nuclear family.”

Patriot Front founder Thomas Rousseau, who was among those arrested in Coeur d’Alene, reportedly said, “A nation within a nation is our goal. Our people face complete annihilation as our culture and heritage are attacked from all sides.

“So from that, we can kind of extrapolate that they would view very family-friendly, very joyful events like Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene as sort of a direct threat to them,” Bitz said. “Other people can’t just live our lives the way we prefer without them perceiving it as some kind of problem for them.”

You see this playing out in the rhetoric they use, claiming such events are “preparing children” or trying to recruit children.

“They’re coming for our kids,” the Panhandle Patriots member said at Heather Scott’s rally.

We have seen this attitude of fear and threat in the same-sex marriage debate. Opponents said we had to protect the sanctity of marriage and that if we allowed same-sex marriage it would destroy the institution of marriage.

Well, seven years after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the institution of marriage is still intact. Nothing was destroyed, heterosexual marriage is still going strong.

As our editorial board wrote earlier, the Patriot Front’s planned disruption of the gay pride picnic in Coeur d’Alene perfectly demonstrates why we still need gay pride events.

Targeting, threatening and harassing a group of people simply because of who they are is about as un-American and anti-freedom as it gets.

And there’s nothing patriotic about it.

This story was originally published June 15, 2022 1:56 p.m.

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Scott McIntosh is the Opinion Editor of the Idaho Statesman. A graduate of Syracuse University, he joined the Statesman in August 2019. He was previously editor of the Idaho Press and the Argus Observer and was owner and editor of the Kuna Melba News. He has been honored for his editorials and columns as well as his reporting on education, business, and local government by the Idaho Press Club and the National Newspaper Association. Sign up for his weekly newsletter, The Idaho Way.
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