I am quite serious when I say that LGBT people and people of color in this country are under attack.

Specifically, LGBT people who live in the most conservative parts of our country are facing an unprecedented assault on their civil rights, as their elected leaders push nearly 200 bills grounded in prejudice and hate. Yes, I write “their” elected leaders because elected officials are supposed to represent all of their constituents.

Just look at what happened last month in North Carolina, as conservative lawmakers used dirty procedural tactics to enshrine into law a policy of discrimination against LGBT people. House Bill 2 also removed a citizen’s ability to file a discrimination claim at the state level, and took away local municipalities’ ability to govern in the best way possible for their constituents.

The majority of the optimism about the future of the LGBT rights movement after last year’s Supreme Court victory on marriage equality is quickly being pushed aside by an onslaught across this country of anti-equality bills like the one in North Carolina. The LGBT movement is facing a threat that many thought was nearly extinguished after the last several years saw rapid progress advancing legal equality and social acceptance for LGBT people.

These anti-equality bills aren’t just confined to conservative states — but in more progressive places where they’re popping up, they stand little chance of moving forward. There are a few reasons why these bills get traction and become law in some states and die an embarrassing death in others. But one common thread I see is that the places where the bills are viable have very few or no openly LGBT lawmakers or true allies that support their LGBT family members who can fight to keep them from moving forward. And in many of the places that the bills die or never even get introduced, we have several openly LGBT people serving in state legislatures.

It’s a good example of that old political adage that if you’re not at the table, you are on the menu.

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