Election Commentary

LGBTQ leaders in battleground states plead with voters because local elections make a big difference

LGBTQ leaders in battleground states plead with voters because local elections make a big difference
Election ballot boxPhoto: Nashville Election Commission

With one more day to cast a ballot, LGBTQ leaders from Ohio, Iowa, and Florida spoke with LGBTQ Nation to urge anyone who hasn’t voted to hurry to the polls.

Justin Gould, Board President of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, wants LGBTQ people to know that to vote means to be part of the enduring LGBTQ legacy of standing up for change.

Related: The GOP is making it hard for LGBTQ people to vote. Here’s how to make sure your ballot is counted.

“We come from a family, a historical family of survivors,” he said. “People who stood up and fought in the streets at Stonewall, people who ran for office and demanded that their fellow legislators took us seriously, like Harvey Milk. This is an opportunity to stand up in our own way, and by going to the polls, by engaging with your public officials, you are playing an individual and important part of that story.”

In Ohio, said Gould, The Center’s team has observed LGBTQ voters recognizing that this election is not only about who wins the White House, but that it is also vital in terms of the outcomes of local races.

“Ohio is a state where the LGBT community can still lose their housing because of who they are or who they love,” he said.

Gould emphasized that in Ohio, LGBTQ people and allies who have yet to vote should refer to Equality Ohio’s voting guide, which ranks state-level and some national politicians based on their support of the LGBTQ community.

In Iowa, Courtney Reyes, Executive Director of LGBTQ advocacy organization, One Iowa, said the team feels “encouraged” by how many people they are seeing getting out to vote. She, too, stressed the importance of voting on a local level, citing the fourteen anti-LGBTQ bills that came out of the Iowa statehouse this past session.

“We really want a President that supports LGBTQ rights openly,” she said, “but its high stakes here in Iowa, itself, for our house races.”

Like Gould, Reyes emphasized that voting is a pivotal way to raise your voice.

“Even though it doesn’t feel like your voice matters, it absolutely does. When we are a combined force, we can make the first step in some really incredible change.”

Reyes also added that voting is not the end of fighting for our rights, but merely the beginning.

“We know that voting is just the first part and that the advocacy and holding elected officials accountable will continue after the election.”

In Iowa, she reminded voters, you can register to vote on election day.

“It’s not too late,” she emphasized. “You can still get out and register to vote and get it done.”

In an op-ed for LGBTQ Nation, Executive Director of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, urged LGBTQ voters not only to be optimistic, but also to recognize the sheer power of the LGBTQ community.

“This election,” she wrote, “Equality Florida Action PAC and our state political committee launched the largest and most ambitious voter mobilization program in our organizations’ history.”

“Our investment has already convinced nearly 90,000 voters who did not cast a ballot at all in 2016 not only to vote, but to vote early. In a state where a U.S. Senator was elected by a margin of fewer than 10,000 votes, and the Governor by less than 30,000, we know our community can decide the outcome of races up and down the ballot.”

In short, every single voice matters. So get out there and vote.

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