LGBT activists have warned US lawmakers that they will face a challenge on election day if they support anti-LGBT legislation.
There are a currently string of bills under discussion across US state legislatures targeting transgender rights protections and same-sex adoption rights, while a ‘freedom to discriminate’ law titled the First Amendment Defense Act was recently reintroduced by Republicans in Congress with the support of President Donald Trump.
But the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group in the United States, this week sent a warning to lawmakers who may be thinking of backing such legislation.
Writing for website The Hill, HRC boss Chad Griffin threatened to put the group’s well-oiled electoral machinery to work to unseat politicians who oppose equality.
He wrote: “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.”
The LGBT rights chief noted that voters in Anchorage, Alaska, had voted down Proposition 1, a “vicious measure, pushed by anti-LGBTQ extremists, aimed at rescinding municipal protections for transgender people in Alaska’s most populous city.”
Griffin continued: “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.”
He added: “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.
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“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 organise and mobilise. We have to build coalitions and stand together. If we do that, we can win.”
Voters in the city of Anchorage, Alaska, rejected Proposition 1, an anti-transgender ballot measure which aimed to overturn the trans-inclusive portions of the city’s 2015 nondiscrimination ordinance, by a vote of 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent earlier this month.
Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said: “Anchorage’s transgender community worked tirelessly with the city’s faith and business leaders and local and national organisers, to build a powerful coalition of love and support, and to combat the fear-mongering tactics of anti-LGBTQ activists to defeat this dangerous anti-trans ballot measure.
“Proposition 1 was exposed as a clear attack on transgender people and unequivocally rejected by voters who put their love of their neighbours and the safety of their entire community above hate.”
GLAAD added: “The powerful defeat of Proposition 1 in Anchorage helps lay the groundwork and provide a blueprint to combat the growing trend of anti-transgender ballot measures popping up across the county.
“The state of Massachusetts will face the first-ever statewide ballot initiative on transgender rights, which will appear on the November 2018 ballot.
“There is also a looming anti-trans ballot measure in Montana, where signatures are currently being collected to place the Initiative 183 on the state’s Election Day 2018 ballot.”