Today is National Voter Registration Day, a chance to unite as a country in our democracy, and around the issues important to LGBTQ people and all Americans.
GLAAD polling of LGBTQ voters has consistently shown our top concerns are the same as most Americans: abortion, healthcare, jobs and the economy, and climate change. The lives of LGBTQ people and especially queer people of color are deeply affected by these issues, and they are rooted in values every American cherishes: freedom, health and safety, love for our children, and a desire for a more prosperous future.
GLAAD urges the media to include LGBTQ voices in the campaign conversation. LGBTQ people can talk with their families and friends about the freedoms at stake and on the ballot this election for all of us:
Freedom to Be Who We Are
LGBTQ people are out in greater numbers than ever before. Nearly 21 percent of GenZ is LGBTQ. This visibility and freedom to be yourself is rightfully celebrated, harms no one, and inspires growth for each LGBTQ person and their communities.
It’s also led to a backlash in many states, with baseless bills targeting LGBTQ people and youth, their healthcare, books, conversation, school sports, and access to the bathroom. Vile false rhetoric about LGBTQ people and our allies, spouted by politicians, is spread on social media and incites real-life violence.
Transgender people and youth in particular are relentlessly targeted for exclusion, led by politicians who see it as a campaign strategy. The truth is, trans people have existed through the ages and in all cultures. Medical care to help them survive and thrive is supported by every major medical association. The effort to legalize discrimination limits the freedom to be their authentic selves.
LGBTQ people contribute to communities, schools, and workplaces. Many LGBTQ people are married and raising children just like any family, in love, happiness, and hope. Trans youth just want to grow up in peace, like all kids. We need our extended families, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates to vote for leaders who support the reality that LGBTQ people exist, are welcomed and beloved, and belong in all areas of life.
Freedom to Love, Marry and Form Our Families
Abortion is on the ballot, as Sen. Lindsey Graham reminded us last week as he proposed a national ban. Marriage equality is on the ballot, as Senators moved to hold a vote on codifying it until after the election.
Overturning Roe and decades of protections for private healthcare decisions has thrown the security of our marriages into doubt, and more. Justice Clarence Thomas doubled down on threats to family freedoms in his Dobbs concurrence, directly calling for landmark LGBTQ rights rulings like Obergefell and Lawrence to be reconsidered, as well as Griswold. The Dobbs decision also threatens assisted reproduction, jeopardizing expanded opportunity to become parents for straight and LGBTQ people alike. All couples — whether of the same-sex, opposite sex, same race, different races — want the freedom to marry who they love, and decide when and how to start a family.
Abortion is healthcare and an LGBTQ issue. Lesbians are more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy than their heterosexual and bisexual peers. Many states restricting transgender youth healthcare also have bans on abortion, pushed by the same longtime opponents of gender and LGBTQ equality.
Voters must choose lawmakers who will work to protect their privacy, private health decisions, and decisions personally affecting them and their families.
Freedom to Read
National Voter Registration Day arrives during Banned Books Week, a week recognized for the past 40 years, now with new urgency for all Americans over the freedom to read.
More than 1,000 book titles were challenged in 86 school districts across 26 states over a nine-month period last year, the vast majority about LGBTQ people and books about race and racism.
It apparently must be said: Books are for everyone; public libraries serve all in the public; and laws about parents’ rights should include the views and rights of all parents, including Black and LGBTQ parents, and parents of LGBTQ and Black youth.
School boards are a new battleground for longtime fights against LGBTQ people, now turned on LGBTQ families. Voters registering today: Please vote in every election, federal, state, local, and school board. Your child and your community’s chance to read, learn and succeed are on the ballot.
Freedom to Decide our Future
Voting rights are an LGBTQ issue. Voting restrictions disproportionately target LGBTQ people and people of color.
Twenty-nine states have no protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Ninety-three percent of LGBTQ Southerners live in a state that does not have laws to protect them in virtually every aspect of daily life.
Laws that restrict voting limit marginalized people from choosing lawmakers who will defend and protect their health, safety, education, and access to society without discrimination. Without representation, chances narrow to receive resources where they’re needed, adding a burden to every American.
National Voter Registration Day is a chance to fight for all these freedoms. At least 2 million eligible LGBTQ Americans are not registered to vote. As many as 1 in 4 eligible Americans are not registered to vote. Check if you’re registered and make a plan to vote at glaad.org/vote.
LGBTQ Americans and all freedom-loving citizens must recognize their power to protect and expand freedoms. Freedom keeps our country moving forward.
Sarah Kate Ellis is the president and CEO of GLAAD.
Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, Equal Pride.