Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee and gubernatorial candidate, was considered a rising star in the Democratic party. In March, several media outlets reported that Gillum was one of three men who was found inebriated with crystal meth in a Miami hotel room. One of the men was a known gay male escort. Gillum’s critics casted judgments on his sexuality, which raised questions about the acceptance of the LGBTQ community in politics. So while America alleges to be this open, inclusive and diverse society, in reality, we’re all talk. We can be as deceptive and tone-deaf with the best of them and our politics prove it.
The president of the United States claims to support the LGBTQ community, but his administration’s actions say otherwise. First, they placed a military ban on transgender individuals. They also dismantled Title X, which granted healthcare such as STD testing and breast screenings and other preventative reproductive services. If that wasn’t enough, they also nominated over 150 federal lifetime judges who have records of restricting reproductive rights. The Trump administration even went as far as to tell the Supreme Court that gay workers should not be protected under Title VII. There is a laundry list of rulings that this administration has made against the LGBTQ community. It screams you’re not welcome here, and if you decide to stay, you’ll be treated as subhuman.
While the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and others have reversed their apostate policies, it hasn’t stopped others from fighting to roll back some of the Supreme Court decisions. The Alliance Defending Freedom Church Alliance and the Christian Coalition are two evangelical conservative groups who give churches and local businesses advice to protect themselves and maintain their religious freedoms.
“You may see all of this walked back,” said John Bursh, a vice-president of the Alliance Defending Freedom Church Alliance, after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was legal nationwide.
The lobbyist and evangelical groups seem like obvious reasons for the LBGTQ to run for office, but there are very few LGBTQ elected officials in prominent political positions or positions that lead to change across the state lines. Today, in 2020, there are 2 U.S. Governors and 2 U.S. Senators in the United States that are a part of the LGBTQ community. That’s it! That’s the list. In fact, the LGBTQ community is 0.1% of all elected officials. This is despite the different sets of questions the LGBTQ community have to deal with when they decide to run for a political office.
Rick Neal had to answer questions about his sexuality. On top of the usual political banter, someone put a white supremacist sign in front of his home. Did I mention that Neal is the father of two African-American girls? Michael Aycox, a police officer, had 17 death threats when he ran for a district position in Mississippi as an openly gay congressional candidate.
According to the University of California, Los Angeles’ Williams Institute, 20% of LGBTQ adults aren’t registered to vote. This matters because the LGBTQ is already facing an uphill battle. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not completely protect the LGBTQ community. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from being fired for being themselves. However, they did not make any rulings on dress codes, bathroom access, or access to locker rooms.
On top of that, the Equality Act has been sitting at the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since May of 2019. The Equality Act will prevent the discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity on matters such as employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, and the jury system. Without those adult voters putting pressure on their elected officials, passing a bill of this magnitude is less than likely.
“You can be married on Sunday, fired on Monday, and lose your house on Tuesday,” said gay rights leaders in response to same-sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court.
On the bright side, more candidates of the LGBTQ community are running for office than ever before. In 2018, over 400 individuals decided to run for office and more are expected to run this year. The criticism about the momentum is that most of the LGBTQ are running for state and local offices. They just want a seat at the table.
And to be fair, the reason for their decision is because many of the political issues facing the LGBTQ community are at the state and local levels such as state and community-based programs.
“If you are not at the table, you’re on the menu,” said Former U.S. Representative Barney Frank.
But which table do you want to be sitting at? The table with the state and local leaders, who are making decisions about the state you live in, or the table with the ability to pass legislation across the country?
This year the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage turned five years old. But without a continued commitment, same-sex marriage could become a thing of the past. The political arena is an infinite loop of the same battles clashing over and over. And as much as the LGBTQ community celebrated the victory, the Supreme Court has overturned 200 of its own decisions. With the Trump administration being able to nominate a third Supreme Court justice, history may not repeat itself.
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