Push anti-LGBTQ legislation and we will come for you on Election Day

Push anti-LGBTQ legislation and we will come for you on Election Day
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Over the years, the ballot box has been a battleground for LGBTQ equality and our most fundamental rights. For decades, anti-LGBTQ forces have worked to repeal non-discrimination ordinances that provide protections for our community at the local level. In dozens of states, these groups worked to ban same-sex marriage at the ballot box, sometimes even succeeding in enshrining these bans in state constitutions. More recently, our opponents have run smear campaigns designed to scare voters into taking away protections from transgender Americans.    

But today, change is taking hold across this country. Americans are using their vote as a voice for equality. Last week, Anchorage voters showed us just how far we’ve come.

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On Friday, Anchorage certified election results that cemented the defeat of Proposition 1, a vicious measure, pushed by anti-LGBTQ extremists, aimed at rescinding municipal protections for transgender people in Alaska’s most populous city. In defeating this despicable measure, voters sent a clear message to the rest of the country that discrimination has no home in Anchorage, in Alaska, or anywhere in America.

 

This is a victory for fairness and equality that gives us hope, and a path forward. Working in coalition, Human Rights Campaign joined with Fair Anchorage, local and national advocacy organizations, and transgender leaders in Anchorage to fight back against this discriminatory proposition. And we won.

We’re grateful to all those in the business community who opposed Proposition 1 and to the prominent Democrats and Republicans — including both senators from Alaska — who cast their own ballots against this cruel measure.

In Anchorage in the final run up to Election Day, the members of a grassroots movement were determined to tell that world that this measure is not what Anchorage supports. Their grit and tenacity in the face of bigotry and long odds filled me with hope. And it was the hard work of these local leaders and advocates — the thousands of calls made, the doors they knocked, the conversations had with members of the community — that resulted in this big win.

This victory has consequences beyond Alaska’s borders. Anchorage joins a growing list of cities and states that have shut down extremists at the ballot box. The city has delivered yet another high-profile rejection of the vile anti-transgender attacks that our opponents have resorted to all across America.  

Over the last 18 months, we've seen how these attacks fail when informed voters see through the smears. Anti-trans attacks didn’t work in North Carolina — just ask Pat McCrory, the first North Carolina governor to lose re-election in more than 150 years. They didn’t work in Virginia — ask Bob Marshall, who lost his seat to trailblazing transgender state legislator Danica Roem last November. And now, these attacks have failed in Anchorage, too.

But that doesn't mean our opponents are going away. They’re behind an initiative that will be on the ballot in Massachusetts this November that would strip away statewide protections for transgender people. And in Montana, our opponents are attempting to put a discriminatory measure on the ballot mirroring North Carolina’s HB2 law. These attacks must stop, and it is on us to stop them.

So let's learn from our victories, like the victory in Anchorage. We have to continue to lift up the voices of transgender advocates and their families to inoculate voters against the lies our opponents spread. We have to organize and mobilize. We have to build coalitions and stand together. If we do that, we can win.

And as we continue to prove — from North Carolina, to Virginia, to Alaska — if you come for us, we will come for you on Election Day.

Chad Griffin is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization.