Anti-Transgender Lawmakers & Initiatives Failing Nationwide

November 7, 2018 • 2:51 pm

WASHINGTON –  Massachusetts voters last night overwhelmingly affirmed a law protecting transgender people from discrimination, delivering a resounding victory for the first-ever statewide referendum on transgender nondiscrimination. But a handful of other races in states across the country tell a story of lawmakers doubling down on anti-transgender discrimination – and paying a price at the polls. In Texas, State Rep. Ron Simmons – the author of anti-transgender legislation during both the regular and special convenings of the state’s 2017 legislative session – was defeated, losing to newcomer Michelle Beckley. Beckley ran on a platform of supporting LGBTQ Texans. In Massachusetts, State Rep. Jim Lyons lost his reelection bid to Tram Nguyen, another LGBTQ nondiscrimination supporter. Lyons was one of the leading voices against the successful 2016 effort to pass the commonwealth’s nondiscrimination law, and he campaigned unsuccessfully to repeal it at the ballot this year. And in New Hampshire, State Rep. Victoria Sullivan – who worked vociferously to derail the bipartisan transgender nondiscrimination law enacted in the state this year – was defeated by Joshua Query, an openly LGBTQ candidate.

“Americans are increasingly uniting around laws that treat everyone – including LGBTQ people – with dignity and respect,” said Masen Davis, Freedom for All Americans’ CEO. “Transgender rights no longer works as a wedge issue for opponents of LGBTQ equality. In recent years, we’ve seen anti-LGBTQ opponents lose in states across the country, and some of their biggest allies in state legislatures are suffering defeats as well. Voters want to support lawmakers and policies that recognize the basic humanity and dignity of all Americans. Politicians who seek to build a cheap reputation by simply demonizing and attacking others will find it increasingly difficult to do so.”

There’s additional evidence that supporting transgender equality isn’t a partisan issue: Some of the most vocal Republican supporters of nondiscrimination secured reelection last night. In Texas, State Rep. Sarah Davis – who firmly opposed the anti-transgender fervor that consumed the legislature last year – was reelected, surmounting a general election challenger and efforts led by Gov. Greg Abbott to primary her. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker – who is both America’s most popular governor and a vocal supporter of the commonwealth’s transgender nondiscrimination law – sailed to reelection. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu won reelection after signing the state’s bipartisan transgender nondiscrimination bill into law earlier this year. Five Republican state lawmakers who led efforts to pass the historic law also secured reelection.

Prior to last night’s historic victory for Yes on 3 in Massachusetts, voters in Alaskamade history in April when they went to the polls and affirmed Anchorage’s transgender nondiscrimination policy. But 2018 isn’t the first year that anti-trans politicians and initiatives have failed so decisively: Last year, out transgender candidate Danica Roem made history when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates by defeating Del. Bob Marshall – one of the most discriminatory and anti-LGBTQ lawmakers in the commonwealth. And two years ago, North Carolinians voted Pat McCrory out of office after he doubled down on the disastrous and anti-transgender HB2 law. McCrory was swept out of office even as Donald Trump won the Tar Heel state.

The through-line is clear: time and time again, Republican, Democratic, and independent voters are rejecting policies and politicians that target transgender people for discrimination. That rejection is taking place on grounds of both economic prosperity and basic decency, and it highlights the fact that discrimination, often used as a political wedge, is no longer a winning issue.

For more information on the status of LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in states across the country, and the progress toward winning nondiscrimination for all LGBTQ Americans, visit www.FreedomForAllAmericans.org.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Democrats, Republicans, and independents; businesses large and small; people of faith; and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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