More than 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender candidates are running for political office this year, according to the New York Times.
A record number.
The timing could not be better considering that during the 2017 state legislative season nearly 130 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced across 30 states.
“If an LGBTQ couple drove from Maine to California today, their legal rights and civil rights protections could change more than 20 times at state borders and city lines,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
For this very reason, the need for the queer community to make their voices heard and take action in the political arena is more vital now than ever.
Currently, under Trump’s America, anti-LGBTQ sentiments are high.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the “Religious Liberty Task Force” which will implement and enforce anti-LGBTQ Trump policies.
This “task force” is really just a license for people to discriminate against queer people citing religious beliefs.
Since his election, Trump and his administration have attacked the civil and human rights of the queer community. Last year Jeff Session filed court papers that argued the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not protect queer workers.
Also, who can forget Trump’s attempt to ban trans people from serving in the military last year.
Another worrisome anti-LGBTQ move made by the Trump administration is the nomination of conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. Kavanaugh would give SCOTUS a conservative majority, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy who ruled in favor of many gay rights landmark decisions.
According to a recent report, only 0.1 percent of elected officials in our country are openly queer.
That same report showed that currently there are roughly 500 openly L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials in the country, including one governor and seven members of Congress.
One of these queer candidates is Sharice Davids who is currently a leading Democrat in a key congressional primary in the state of Kansas. She is a lesbian and Native American.
“Having L.G.B.T.Q. people sitting in the room while decisions are being made, and sitting there as peers, will shift the conversation,” Davids said. “I think it’s important that the lived experiences and the point of view of L.G.B.T.Q. folks be included in conversations that affect all of us.”
Jessica Gonzalez, a lesbian woman running unopposed for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives believes queer politicians can “definitely make a big difference.”
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” Gonzalez stated.
When you have the President of the United States and his administration publicly and eagerly attack our queer communities, the best remedy is action.
There are many young queer voters who need to see their needs and experiences represented in our country’s legislators – both state and federal. They become discouraged to vote and make their voices heard when they don’t see someone who has their best interest in mind on the ballot.
The reality is that even with this surge of queer candidates, there are still many areas in our counrty where anti-LGBTQ sentiments are strong and ruling.
Currently there are 13 states where there are no queer politicians in the legislature, according to the New York Times.
Gonzales is right, if the queer community doesn’t push to “have a seat at the table” – in any political office – then they will remain on the homophobic “menu” that is Trump’s political agenda.