We are under attack. It’s not exaggeration or hyperbole to say that there are those in America today who want to seriously harm individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. This applies to you regardless of your age, race, financial level, if you are out or in the closet, or however you self-identify.
I am writing to not just ask you but to tell you to vote this November or sooner (early voting begins Sept. 29) and to vote for Democrats, the only party and candidates who have our backs and best interests in mind. It’s truly tragic, but I can give you countless examples of how Republicans and so-called conservatives both here in Michigan and across our country are actively working to restrict our Constitutional rights to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” and to impair our everyday existence to live freely as ourselves.
Of course, there’s the “Don’t Say Gay” laws that were passed in Florida, affecting LGBTQ+ students in the state’s schools, and the anti-transgender legislation passed in multiple states this year. But truly horrifying laws are being pushed through here in Michigan too, as Republicans introduced three anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session regarding secondary education targeting our transgender youth: as the bill states, a “requirement that only biological males may compete for a position on and compete on a boys’ high school team in an interscholastic activity and only biological females may compete for a position on and compete on a girls’ high school team in an interscholastic activity.”
None passed here, but our Republican-controlled Senate did successfully kill this year’s Pride Month proclamation (after having allowed it just last year) and vetoed Governor Whitmer’s appointment of two LGBTQ+ persons to state university boards. Think that this doesn’t affect you? Think again: representation matters, whatever its form.
Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community is fortunate to have a strong ally in Gretchen Whitmer, whose daughter, Sherry, recently came out, and a resolute, openly gay attorney general, Dana Nessel. We’re also fortunate to have a pro-equality majority on our state’s Supreme Court and the likely election of our largest (seven by last count) LGBTQ+ contingent to serve in our Legislature next term. Then, of course, there’s the very promising opportunity to have pro-equality Democrats control both our state House and Senate for the first time in decades. You want sexual orientation and gender identity enshrined in our state’s civil rights law? Help elect Democrats to make this happen in our next legislative session.
But this will only happen if, first, you vote and, secondly, if you support pro-equality candidates with your checkbook and your time between now and election day on Nov. 8. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the number of times that I have had to tell LGBTQ+ and pro-equality candidates here in Michigan not to count on our own community for support. If I’m being honest, we suck at supporting our own and those who have our best interests at heart. That needs to change now. Google the Democrats who are running for Congress, state House and Senate (or county commission or judge) near you, then attend an event of theirs or offer to make phone calls or knock doors on their behalf. And when you do, make sure to let them know that you are LGBTQ+. That matters because, once elected, they will respond first to those who helped them get there.
I could tell you this is the most important election of our times. I could harangue, cajole and beg you to vote — anything to get you involved in this year’s election. I could try to scare you and make you uncomfortable about our collective future if anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans take control at our state and national levels.
Instead, I’ll simply leave you with this: Go to https://michigandems.com/vote to learn about voting either in person or absentee this fall, then make a plan to vote and fill your car with your besties and make them do the same.
The ultimate truth remains: When we vote, we win. Period.