In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Legislation that would create new protections for LGBTQ Americans is stalling out in the U.S. Senate. Credit: Susan Walsh

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on

The start of this year’s Pride Month included controversy involving the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, and the decision by a handful of its players not to join the rest in wearing pride flag logos on their uniforms.

Was it a swing and a miss by those players? Sure. Symbols matter, and athletes’ voices carry important weight in our national dialogue. But we have to admit, we’re less concerned about what message a Florida baseball team sends with its uniforms, and more concerned about the impact of a Florida law that effectively prohibits teaching and discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s primary schools.

As Zach Blanchard of News Center Maine said in a rare and powerful on-air editorial, this law “will hurt kids like me who may not have known what gay was as a third grader in a small town, but knew it meant being different and somehow bad.”

We’re less concerned about which corporations and politicians are draping themselves in the rainbow flag this month, and more concerned about who is supporting needed policies like the Equality Act to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and the use of federal funds.

We’re especially concerned about the rise in anti-LGBTQ hate, particularly against trans people, that demonstrates a despicable intolerance toward our fellow Americans and human beings.

As you may have heard at some point already during this Pride Month, love is love. And we agree. But hate is also hate. And part of celebrating Pride Month, we’d suggest, is acknowledging and pushing back against the policies and efforts that embolden — and even codify —  hate. Just because the proponents of these dangerous measures sometimes insist otherwise doesn’t mean they aren’t institutionalizing hate.

State laws like Florida’s, now being replicated by other Republicans across the country, basically treat LGBTQ+ differences as deviance. Their proponents have falsely reduced any conversation about sexual orientation or gender identity to sexualization. And the platform adopted by Maine Republicans at their recent convention makes some of the same hateful  mistakes.

The national push by Republican-led state Legislatures to ban trans inclusion in sports (thankfully unsuccessful  here in Maine) has followed a similarly dangerous arc. Utah’s Republican governor took a strong stand by vetoing such a law in his state, though the Utah Legislature overrode him.

“Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in his veto message in March. “I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live. And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly. For that reason, as much as any other, I have taken this action in the hope that we can continue to work together and find a better way.”

Americans of all political backgrounds should be able to work together to find a better way, during Pride Month and throughout the year, to include LGBTQ people rather than treat them with fear and anger. What is more conservative than a government that allows people to be who they are? That, after all, is what this really should be about.

Consider 11-year-old Lion, a courageous transgender child in Maine who spoke with the Maine Monitor recently.

“I want acceptance for me and for everybody,” he said. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Avatar photo

The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...