Denver was awash in rainbows. Thousands had gathered for the annual Pride Fest, celebrating LBGTQ lives and advocating liberties.

Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, was grand marshal.

Among the throng: several Democrats running to take Republican incumbent Cory Gardner’s U.S. Senate seat. Not among the crowd: the senator.

Gardner wouldn’t dare be there to embrace these people, his constituents — not when soft-sell bigotry remains one of the foundational planks of the Republican Party.

OK, there’s nothing soft about it.

Not when the Trump administration orders embassies not to fly the multi-colors of the Pride flag.

Not when Mike Pence’s cold, cold aortic structure (same-sex marriage signals “societal collapse,” said he) is one beat away from the presidency.

Not when every gesture of the Trump administration is sculpted to suit the bigoted urges of Franklin Graham and the religious right.

Democrats in Congress have again gone to the mat on protections against discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation. Republicans in the Senate won’t be playing along.

They can’t stomach human rights for human beings who are homosexual or transgender. So much for being “pro-life.”

Elizabeth Warren, the small presidential candidate with the big ideas, is promoting a law that will allow same-sex couples to amend their tax returns to get refunds for which they weren’t eligible when federal law didn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

That would be a nonstarter in Mitch McConnell’s Senate, naturally. That just shows how tone-deaf Republican leaders are to the sea-swell of support of LGBTQ rights, particularly among young voters.

It’s why when people like McConnell are gone, they will be gone for good.

Ask around. Ask young Americans. They are so very accepting of LGBTQ rights, and of institutions like same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian adoption. It’s not even an issue.

Ultimately non-bigots will govern this country, and the religious right will stew in its corner.

Massive Pride Month events across the country aren’t the only indicator pointing to new days ahead.

Local and national newscasts recounted the horrors that led to the Stonewall Riot 50 years ago. The protests that emerged had the feeling of Selma, Birmingham and other heroic quests.

PBS’s stunning documentary, “The Lavender Scare,” recounted the Red Scare-era effort to purge the government of gays and lesbians fueled by whisper campaigns.

Though it all seems so “back then,” I well remember a few years ago in my Texas newspaper days when Republicans staged a not-so-whispery campaign that longtime bachelor, longtime Congressman Chet Edwards was gay.

Ah, fake news. Today Edwards is happily married with two sons.

It’s sad to have to qualify a person’s sexual status with facts. It’s sort of like the lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Of course, neither claim should be considered a slur.

Consider the mindset and how it might apply to you. If you don’t think in an “approved” manner, your religion, sexual orientation or lack of children may be next up for discussion and dissection.

Republicans once advertised themselves as having a “big tent.” Actually, the first time I heard it was the 1992 GOP national convention, notorious for Pat Buchanan’s horrible “family values” screed, packed with mostly anti-gay code in the early days of AIDS. It seems long ago, but the party has yet to change its stripes.

I’m so proud that Pride Month is becoming an institution. The college at which I teach features it all over campus as I write this, pointing to activities to “fight prejudice and honor diversity.” Amen.

Ultimately, those who tout discrimination against homosexuals and the transgender will face the unkind narrative that now accompanies long-ago segregationists and slave owners.

On this count, Trump, Pence and enabling Republicans, firmly on the wrong side of history, are destined to reside in the dust with George Wallace, Lester Maddox and the Dixiecrats, who made the denial of basic human rights a cause worthy of a last stand.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. E-mail: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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