Voter suppression is now the Republican party’s go-to strategy for winning elections. But as recent legal challenges show, the tactic is just another extension of the party’s drive to limit rights, particularly for LGBTQ people.
The plaintiffs in lawsuits seeking to limit voting often have a long history of anti-LGBTQ animus. In fact, for some of them, attacking LGBTQ rights has been a cornerstone of their political careers.
Just this past weekend, Republicans in Texas sought to invalidate 127,000 ballots in Harris County, which includes Democrat-heavy Houston. The GOP argued that the ten drive-through voting locations in the county violated state law, even though the state’s chief voting official – a Republican – approved them.
The lead plaintiff in the Texas case is Steve Hotze, who has built his reputation as a far-right opponent of LGBTQ rights as leader of Conservative Republicans of Texas. Hotze has railed against “homofascists,” decried “the immoral and perverted sexual activities” of gay people, and said that gays were part of a Marxist plot to destroy the nation “like termites.”
Another of the plaintiffs, Texas state Rep. Steve Toth, cites “legislation to protect minors from parents who wish to transition them to the opposite sex” as one of his top legislative priorities in his re-election bid.
Moreover, the connection between voter suppression efforts and anti-LGBTQ advocacy is not confined to Texas. The lead plaintiff in a North Carolina lawsuit to block an extension of the state’s deadline for ballots is Republican state rep. Tim Moore, Speaker of the state House of Representatives.
Moore was a major force in the passage of the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill. Moore baselessly claimed that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity was “a major danger to public safety.” After the passage of the bill led to a huge backlash that included boycotts by sports teams and businesses, Moore still stood his ground until finally agreeing to a “compromise” bill that activists described as wholly inadequate.
The Trump campaign has been a major player in the lawsuits as well. In case anyone needs a reminder, Trump has compiled a vicious record on LGBTQ rights.
The outrageousness of attempting to throw out tens of thousands of ballots or making it difficult to vote during a pandemic is of a piece with the ongoing effort of right-wing Republicans to restrict the rights of anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
They have come to believe that only certain Americans are entitled to freedoms like voting or protection against discrimination. It’s a vision of a country governed by and for the minority–but not for minorities.