Vice-president Kamala Harris has described the consequences of Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law as “outrageous”.
Harris expressed her opinions on a number of LGBTQ+ issues, including the oppressive Don’t Say Gay law, the Respect for Marriage act, and the surge in anti-LGBTQ+ laws across the US, in a stirring interview with Advocate magazine on Wednesday (21 June).
“You look at Florida, the Don’t Say Gay bill and what this has meant for LGBTQ+ teachers who are now afraid,” the vice president said.
She continued by calling it “outrageous” that due to the law, which prohibits discussion of LGBTQ+ themes in schools throughout the state, some queer teachers in Florida now fear losing their jobs.
“I’m looking at some 20-something-year-old teacher in Florida who has dedicated [themselves] to one of the most noble professions,” Harris continued.
“And that teacher who is in a loving relationship or marriage is afraid to put up a photograph of their family for fear that if a student in their classroom asks, ‘who is that?’ it will raise a conversation about a same-sex relationship, and they could lose their job. Outrageous!”
In prior interviews, Harris has slammed the Florida bill, branding Republicans as “extremists” in 2022 and asserting that “younger Americans have more at stake than any other population.”
Love is love. Happy Pride! pic.twitter.com/eqD5Q7kI6M
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 21, 2023
Harris claimed she “hates bullies” in reference to the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation more generally in the US, where more than 500 laws regulating everything from drag to gender-affirming care were introduced in 2023 alone.
“I can’t stand it when so-called powerful people intentionally try to strike fear in innocent people,” the US vice-president told Advocate.
“We just have to make sure that this moment is motivating people to act and not motivating people to be afraid.”
The Respect for Marriage Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December 2022 to safeguard Americans’ right to same-sex marriage and inter-racial unions, was also discussed in the conversation.
“Nobody should be made to fight alone,” Harris said.
“Our president has been in front of this issue for so long also, so to be with him on the stage where there’s a mutual recognition of what this means in terms of our mutual commitment to this issue, that also meant a lot.”
As a result of Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion, being overturned last year, Harris emphasised that fighting for LGBTQ+ rights also includes fighting for abortion rights and against racism. She asserted that “attacks on identity” are related.
Yesterday, the Equality Act was reintroduced in Congress. The House and Senate must pass this long overdue legislation to guarantee every LGBTQI+ American the right to live freely and openly.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 22, 2023
“The intersection on the issue of reproductive care and trans care, and the ability of families to be able to have care for their children and their families is really, again, an intersection around attacks that are on an identity,” Harris continued.
“You see the increase in racism, the increase in white supremacy, the increase of just the misogynist kind of rhetoric … a lot of it is really about attacking people for who they are and simply want to be.”
Harris added that she would say to those who are anti-LGBTQ+ that “it takes nothing from you to let people be”.
“From my perspective, I will tell you the true measure of strength is not based on who you knock down. It’s based on who you lift up.”