Democratic governor Gavin Newsom explains why ‘assault’ on drag is a threat to all Americans

California governor Gavin Newsom in MSNBC interview

California governor Gavin Newsom has called out the “assault” on drag and LGBTQ+ rights across America, claiming “we’re in a perilous moment”.

The Democratic politician, who has been governor since 2019, told MSNBC that liberal states need to pay attention to the curbing of LGBTQ+ rights in conservative states such as Florida. Quoting civil rights icon Martin Luther King, he said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

Newsom is a long-time supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and issued marriage licences to thousands of same-sex couples in California a decade before equal marriage was legalised nationwide. He likened the current “groomer” rhetoric to historical bills such the failed Briggs Initiative, a 1978 proposition that would have banned LGBTQ+ teachers from working in public schools. 

“It’s a really remarkable time, and attacking and demeaning the trans community is almost sport for these guys [Republican politicians],” Newsom said.

“It gives them an entree into avoiding the tough realities: they show total indifference about safe drinking water in Mississippi, total indifference about what’s happening to the environment, but they sell fear and anger on poor trans kids.”

Gavin Newsom, 55, added that all the civil rights and liberties that had been hard-won by minorities in his life time “that I have taken for granted” are currently “in peril”. 

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He said: “It’s here, it’s happening. They’re doing menstrual inspection bills. Genital inspection bills have been introduced by Republicans across the country.

“They’re not passing yet, but they’re being proposed. The mind is being stretched consistently. I mean, interracial marriage, they had to codify that [in the US Constitution]… we can’t take anything for granted.

“We’re in a perilous moment… but [I’m] feeling optimistic because this is not who we are.”

Gavin Newsom’s interview, during which he criticised Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who brought in the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bans discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in most classrooms, comes as more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are reportedly being advanced across the United States.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), more than 120 of the bills are aimed at preventing transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care, along with at least 30 anti-trans bathroom legislation being proposed.

“More than 210 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date,” the HRC said.

Tennessee politicians have been heavily criticised for attempting to enact a ban on public drag performances, something critics say could have an impact on Pride parades going ahead.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the legislation.

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