Voter Involvement is Key
As June gets closer and LGBTQ people start marking their summer calendars for over a dozen pride celebrations across Michigan — a huge achievement on its own — it’s a great time to take stock of the unprecedented positive political action that has been achieved over the past year — seemingly despite all odds.
Perhaps most importantly, there are more than 20 LGBTQ candidates who have decided to run not only in local city elections, but statewide offices like Democratic Attorney General Candidate Dana Nessel, and state senatorial candidate Jeremy Moss and Garnet Lewis. And, if elected, Lewis would make history as the first lesbian in the Michigan legislature. Another good sign is that that positive change is being mirrored across the U.S., even in conservative states like Texas that this year have more than 40 LGBTQ candidates.
However, as positive as that change may be, it means nothing unless those candidates receive votes from an informed constituency. And we all know that we could each be doing a better job at keeping up to date about the newest policies, laws and regulations being passed by our government, as well as the various platforms being put forth by candidates who are running. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau found that voter turnout, especially in the younger age brackets of 18 to 29 and 30 to 44 has been low since the ’80s, only spiking occasionally in more contested elections.
That’s vital to understand because it’s not only the national elections that matter; it’s the smaller, local ones that are arguably most important because those are the people who will eventually move up onto the ballot as national candidates. For better or for worse.
The good news is that there are a variety of avenues available to get informed about the existing Michigan candidates and their various political stances that don’t require too much legwork. Here are a few methods can set up a good baseline of knowledge.
Led by its President and CEO Annise Parker — former openly lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas — Victory Fund is an organization that sponsors LGBTQ candidates and provides a succinct overview of what each candidate is running for, the significance of their candidacy and how to connect with them.
“We politically, agnostically endorse candidates from all political parties and we ask that they be openly GLBT, that they commit to fighting anti-LGBT legislation and do their best to promote our issues. And we ask that they believe in the right to privacy,” Parker said in an interview with BTL.
More information can be found online at victoryfund.org.
Researching Voting History
If you’re unsure whether the candidate you’re thinking about voting for will really stand up for your rights, a great way to look at their political track record is to check their voting history. If the candidate is an incumbent in the House of Representatives or Senate, going to Congress.gov can be a quick way to look at their previous stances on important political issues. For smaller governmental elections, many city government websites have an online public record of their meetings with voting history recorded.
Going to Pride
Perhaps the best way to get a solid understanding of several candidates at once is to meet with someone in person. Prides all over Michigan have booths that have been rented out by a variety of political groups who support specific candidates. While planning a day of fun at pride, taking time to stop over at a few politically-minded tables can be a great starting point to getting involved in an organization onesself, or getting familiar with a new candidate’s name.
Between The Lines has compiled a thorough list of interviews and analyses of candidates. Heading to mivoterguide.com can provide an in-depth look at candidate positions on a variety of topics, and their support of LGBTQ policies.