[Leaflet] LGBTQ Rights Are Under Attack: Fight Back With Class Struggle!

This is the text of a leaflet distributed by supporters of Socialist Revolution at pride and LGBTQ rights demonstrations throughout the country. Download the PDF of the four-page foldable leaflet here.


Civil rights are under attack across the country. From reproductive rights to voting rights, from students’ right to learn about oppression and LGBTQ topics, to trans people’s right to even exist, the onslaught from the ruling class is undermining the gains won by the mass struggles of the past. Far from being a guard against them, the government and the courts are at the heart of these attacks, revealing the reactionary nature of these institutions.

The recent leak of the Supreme Court’s plot to destroy Roe v. Wade is only the latest example of this offensive. State legislatures are pumping out hundreds of bills that attack trans people’s right to healthcare, protection from discrimination, and trans students’ ability to integrate at school. All of these infringements on what should be basic rights will cause an uptick in the already staggering rates of depression and suicide among trans people and other LGBTQ youth. What is behind these attacks and how can we effectively fight back?

The reactionary logic of the SCOTUS leak has implications that reach far beyond abortion rights. The majority of this unelected body believes that since the question of abortion is not explicitly mentioned in the text of the US Constitution, it is not the jurisdiction of the federal government. Just like that, tens of millions will find themselves thrust into the barbarism of an earlier century. But the same could be said for other rights not mentioned in the leaked opinion, including the civil rights of LGBTQ people.

The Constitution was drafted nearly two and a half centuries ago by a handful of bankers, slavers, and land owners with the ultimate aim of defending private property rights. For nearly three-quarters of its existence, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional nature of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today, these unelected judges are preparing to use similar arguments to undermine environmental protections, while humanity is hurtling toward a climate catastrophe. An institution with this kind of track record cannot be entrusted to defend any rights—except those of the capitalist minority.

And that is precisely what these latest attacks are about. The capitalist system is teetering on the brink of yet another devastating economic crisis, social discontent is rising, and the ruling class is desperate to divert the class struggle into the “culture war” by whipping up whatever reactionary sentiments it can—bigotry, homophobia, racism, sexism, and more. The more cynical strategists of the system know the value of maintaining a divided working class, and they are willing to use all the tools at their disposal—from the courts, to the press, to the pulpits—to stoke those divisions.

But sooner or later, those attacks reach a tipping point. The ruling class can only go so far before the anger fueled by accumulated injustices erupts into a social explosion. That is precisely what we saw in the summer of 2020, when the murder of George Floyd ignited the largest mass movement in US history. Fully ten percent of the population participated in protests against police terror, expressing an underlying sense of solidarity against the racist inequality of this system. At its height, the movement enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the population. The Black Lives Matter uprising showed the way to fight against oppression—by harnessing the power of millions of workers and youth on the streets!

The ruling class never gives concessions without a fight. It was through the mass struggles and the threat of social upheaval that civil rights were won in the past. The 1960s were a tempest of revolutionary energy across the US and around the world. Despite the postwar economic boom, the whole capitalist political system was under threat of revolution. Through mass action, Americans eventually forced an end to the US imperialist invasion of Vietnam, many workers won better wages and conditions, and different minority groups won recognition of their civil rights.

The modern Pride movement was born out of the riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969, and this struggle took place alongside movements by Black people, Chicanos, women, veterans, prisoners, and many others. Because of intense pressure from below, the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal government granted reforms.

However, from the mass movements of the 1960s to the mass BLM movement in our time, these gains remain limited by the absence of a mass political party of the working class. The complete domination of the US political arena by the two parties of the capitalist class has led mass struggles into co-option and diversion into safe channels. The Democratic Party controls the governments of most major cities, and they coordinate violent police crackdowns on protesters while promising to reform those same police departments. Many civil rights organizations, NGOs, and nonprofit organizations rely on the Democrats for political favors, and on the goodwill of rich liberal philanthropists for their budgets. These groups guard the “left” flank of the Democratic Party in return for salaried activist positions and access to elite circles and the media.

As a result, despite the historic scope of the 2020 movement, the intensity of racist police terror has not subsided. For the same reason, most of the gains from the struggles of the 1960s are being systematically destroyed today. A mass socialist party could have helped to escalate the protest movement into a revolutionary struggle to establish a workers’ government that could tackle society’s problems head on. It could have linked up the fight against police brutality with the broad social demands of the working class, explaining that Black lives are not only threatened by police violence, but also when it comes to quality housing, employment, healthcare, and education—i.e., social needs shared by the working class as a whole.

The same applies to the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Only through the class struggle can we defend and expand our basic democratic rights and protect queer and trans people. The capitalist system depends upon the labor of the working class to make the profits that keep it moving. It’s by threatening these profits that we can force the capitalists to give us our rights—and eventually overthrow their rotten society altogether.

Imagine if teachers walked out to protest the banning of LGBTQ books in their schools’ libraries. Or if nurses went on strike to protest the restriction of their patients’ access to gender affirming or pregnancy-related healthcare. Combined with a movement on the streets advancing broad working-class demands like full employment, a shorter workweek with no loss in pay, a minimum wage of $1,000 a week, and capping rents at 10% of income, the working class could challenge the entire system root and branch. It would raise the question of who benefits from capitalism, and which class should run society.

What is needed is a revolutionary leadership that can connect the day-to-day struggles of the working class with the socialist fight for all humanity. Socialist Revolution and the International Marxist Tendency are building that leadership, in preparation for the mass struggles on the horizon. At a time when millions are drawing revolutionary conclusions from the experience of the capitalist crisis, there have never been better prospects for spreading Marxist ideas and transmitting a revolutionary socialist program into working-class struggles. So don’t stand on the sidelines! Join us in the fight to win a better world in our lifetime!

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