If you care about equality and justice -- for LGBTQ+ people, for African-Americans, for any marginalized people -- you have to care about electoral politics, says Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Some people will say they aren't interested in politics, notes David, who spoke to The Advocate Tuesday for a future edition of Inside With The Advocate; excerpts of the interview are presented here. But it's incumbent on our community to take an interest, he says.
"We need to have elected officials in office who are representing the interests of all of their constituents, and over the last three and a half years, we have Donald Trump, who has sought to erase LGBTQ people," David says, mentioning Trump's efforts to allow discrimination in adoption and foster care, to keep transgender people out of the military, and more.
David was strongly critical of Trump's actions Monday, when police and National Guard members used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse people who were peacefully protesting violence against African-Americans, including the death of Minneapolis Black man George Floyd while in police custody. It was all so Trump could be photographed holding a Bible in front of a church where a fire had caused minor damage amid the protests. And Trump had just threatened to send the military to shut down protests across the nation.
"Yesterday Donald Trump instructed police to issue tear gas to peaceful protesters in order to create a space for him to have a photo op in front of a church," David says. "Donald Trump has sullied our Constitution and he is seeking to completely destroy our democracy, and we cannot stand aside, we cannot accept what he is trying to do. We have to fight back."
The way to do that is to vote in November (and in any primaries or local elections in your area before then), to volunteer in campaigns, and to persuade others to vote for candidates who support equality, David says. The HRC has endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president and has also endorsed 40 equality-minded candidates in U.S. House races and five in U.S. Senate races. It also backs candidates for state legislatures and local offices.
HRC is training campaign volunteers -- all virtually, given the current health situation -- and is running phone banks and text banks for volunteers. It also has an app for communicating with your social contacts regarding the election.
Volunteering, David notes, is a way to celebrate Pride at a time when parades and festivals have been canceled or postponed. "Please volunteer; please get involved in our fight for social justice and equality," he says."We are fighting for our lives."
Pride Month is also a time to reflect on the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, which was spurred by protests like we're seeing now, whether at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, the Black Cat bar in Los Angeles, or Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco, he notes.
"As this country is grappling with the oppression of Black people, it's important that LGBTQ people think about how Pride started in protest and how we need to make sure that we are standing up, rising up, in all ways possible, for other marginalized communities, including the Black community," he says.
His organization and other leading LGBTQ+ groups are seeking to do this, says David, the first Black person, or person of color overall, to lead the HRC. "Racial justice should be core and central to our mission," he says.
Different activist groups have different missions, he notes; some may provide direct services or focus on a particular type of advocacy, but HRC's primary focus is politics. And he again makes an appeal to people who say they don't care about politics.
"Please care for the next few months," he says. "Please engage for the next few months. Because our lives are on the line."
Check back soon for the full Inside With The Advocate video interview.