With the Election Looming, We Must Get More LGBTQ Americans Registered to Vote
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America’s LGBTQ community has a rich legacy of grassroots activism and a fighting spirit when it comes to social justice, and we love to herald those traits as indicative of our unique power and sense of community. But the notion that our queer community has firm roots in political activism is belied by a rather disconcerting statistic: one in five LGBTQ adults are not registered to vote ahead of this 2020 U.S. election, despite the fact that in many ways our own civil rights are on the line. And that is why LGBTQ voter registration must become a priority.
It was an October 2019 study by the Williams Institute in Los Angeles which uncovered the disappointing statistic: 21% of LGBTQ adults here in America aren’t registered to vote, compared to 17% of non-LGBTQ adults. The survey also examined LGBTQ voters’ demographics, political attitudes and party affiliations. (Half of respondents self-identified as Democrats, 22% as Independents, 15% as Republicans.)
LGBTQ voter registration — and ensuring queer people of all stripes actually ‘get out the vote’ — are valuable tools in rebuking the Trump administration and returning to a path of upholding progressive values in support of LGBTQ lives. Not voting will almost assuredly hand the election over to the GOP and its fight for anti-gay and anti-trans initiatives.
A Pew Research Center survey found “Those who didn’t vote [in the 2016 election] are as responsible for the outcome of the election as those who did.” Four years ago, nearly a third of U.S. citizens were eligible to vote but did not, more than the portions of those who voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Why increased LGBTQ voter registration is a must ahead of this year’s election
By now it’s hardly news that Donald Trump’s nauseating promise to “be a real friend” to the LGBTQ community was little more than lip service, with the trans community feeling the brunt of his administration’s attacks. Trump and his cronies banned trans soldiers from openly serving in the military, rescinded protections for trans students, appointed a slew of judges (including two Supreme Court justices, which is about to be three) with anti-equality track records and who have supported blatant LGBTQ discrimination disguised as religious liberty.
Republicans have officially re-endorsed an anti-LGBTQ platform through 2024 (also voting to allow no changes to the platform until then). Support of conversion therapy for minors is included in the GOP’s platform. And despite marriage equality existing across the country for five years now and its support by an overwhelming majority of Americans, the platform “condemns” gay marriage and “urge[s] its reversal” through a constitutional amendment or by the U.S. Supreme Court — which is very much in the realm of possibility if Trump is able to get Amy Coney Barrett installed on the country’s highest court.
The Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws to essentially protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in all aspects of life, was passed by the Democrat-led House in May 2019. But without flipping the Senate and taking the presidency in 2020, there’s no chance of seeing the Equality Act signed into law.
In the words of Alphonso David — civil rights lawyer, LGBTQ advocate and president of the Human Rights Campaign, “The 2020 presidential election will determine whether the Trump administration’s attacks on LGBTQ rights are allowed to continue — or whether we begin the work of restoring our democracy.”
Let’s push for more LGBTQ voter registration in this weeks leading up to the election
Until opt-out or automatic voter registration becomes a nationwide reality in the United States, we simply must make LGBTQ voter registration a priority within our own community. For the most part it’s a process that takes about two minutes to complete, which means it’s an issue of educating and informing LGBTQ adults of how to do so.
All 50 states will allow for voter registration this year until at least Oct. 3, which gives us only a bit more time to focus on LGBTQ voter registration. Thirty-nine states and Washington, D.C., allow you to register to vote online. For those states where a voter registration form must be mailed in, that form (standard for all U.S. citizens) can be downloaded and filled out online before being printed.
Vote.gov is an official U.S. government website with all the necessary resources for LGBTQ voter registration. There, you’re able to simply select your state from a dropdown menu and undergo the process.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re registered to vote, head here to find out.
If you’re older than 13 but not yet 18, you can go here and “pledge to register,” which asks vote.org to text you on your 18th birthday and remind you to register.
And what if — once you’re registered — you cannot or don’t want to vote in person on Nov. 3? You can head here to request an absentee ballot.
Of course, LGBTQ voter registration is just the first step
While it’s a painfully obvious observation, increased LGBTQ voter registration — and even the education of queer community members about the upcoming election’s important issues and supportive candidates — will not return our country to a progressive path unless members of our community actually vote!
Underserved, marginalized communities have more at stake than ever in the upcoming election, which as of today is only 35 days away. And voting is still a tried-and-true way to ensure our voices are heard and our values are reflected back at us by our own representatives. Without bringing out the vote, we are also unable to rid America of the barriers to voting we see affect some members of our community, like voter ID laws that ultimately prevent trans individuals from casting a ballot.
However you are considering voting come November, please ensure you’re able to vote. And please help push for LGBTQ voter registration among your own local community, friends, family and loved ones. Policies, issues, and concrete actions that will affect queer people are on the line.