LGBT people were crucial in stopping the most homophobic senate candidate in history
Failed Senate candidate for Alabama Roy Moore somehow managed to be the most homophobic candidate in recent American history – and LGBT people may have been crucial to his defeat.
The Republican candidate for Alabama’s US Senate seat, who has said that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal, lost to Democrat Doug Jones by 49.9% to 48.4%, or 20,000 votes.
During the run-up to the special election triggered by Jeff Sessions’ move to the Justice Department, Moore proved himself to be significantly anti-gay.
Moore once said that he ‘didn’t know’ whether gay people should be executed and that transgender people should not have human rights.
As well as his blatant homophobia, Moore has been accused of committing sexual misconduct and child molestation against nine victims, including a 14-year-old.
Polling from both political parties in the state estimated that there were around 60,000 LGBT+ people in Alabama.
Voter turnout in the election was expected to be around 25%. However, thanks in part to campaigns encouraging under-represented minorities such as people of colour and LGBT people to vote, actual turnout was 40%.
Doug Jones won 671,151 votes in total, in comparison to 650,436 votes for Moore.
As the Senate election was based on the popular vote, the increase in voter turn out may have had a direct impact on the election.
Rep. Patricia Todd, a state representative who identifies as a lesbian, said to HuffPost: “A lot of queer folks do not vote because they think it’s pointless or doesn’t make any difference.
“I think last night we demonstrated that every vote counts and you have got to exercise your right to vote. It was just phenomenal.”
Todd added: “It’s just incredible to finally win one. The LGBTQ community turned out in droves. Even some of our Republican LGBTQ folks voted for Doug [Jones].”
LGBT groups and charities put a considerable amount of time and effort into getting LGBT Alabamians to vote.
Ben Needham from the HRC said: “Because HRC already has an established presence in Alabama and thousands of supporters, that led HRC to making an early endorsement in this race and pour tremendous financial resources and staff time into his campaign.”
LGBT groups also partnered with local chapters of the NAACP for their campaign, an important move as 98% of voting black women cast their votes for Jones, as did 93% of black men.
Alabamians are now increasingly optimistic after the victory, which is the first Democratic victory for an Alabama Senate seat since 1992.
Director of LGBT group Equality Alabama Alex Smith said: “I think for so long politicians and people running for office have neglected the LGBTQ community because they view it as this kind of lighting rod ― especially in the South”
He continued: “Talking about LGBTQ issues can be a deal breaker and can lose elections immediately.”
“I think we’re seeing that change now ― we’re seeing that candidates who embrace equality are candidates who get elected.”
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Grassroots organiser William Thomas, added: “I think [Jones’ win] proves that even in a conservative place like Alabama, that when there is an existential threat to LGBTQ people we will fight back and we will organize.
“We will get boots on the ground and we will go out and defeat people like [Roy Moore].”
So long, Roy Moore. Screw you and the horse you rode in on.