Election Results Usher in New Chapter in Fight for LGBTQ EqualityNovember 7, 2018 • 8:49 am
MA victory offers playbook to win transgender nondiscrimination; while comprehensive federal legislation is on deck for new Congress
WASHINGTON – Last night’s election results across the country will hypercharge a national conversation around the urgent need to pass a comprehensive federal law that protects LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. Democrats will control the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019 – and have already indicated that passing a federal nondiscrimination bill will be a top priority. And the historic victory in Massachusetts – where, for the first time ever, voters affirmed transgender nondiscrimination protections at the ballot, offers advocates a clear roadmap for how to win in other states.
“LGBTQ Americans should feel excited and energized this morning. For the first time in years, our movement has a clear path forward for how we can win nondiscrimination protections at the state level, and how our work in the states can generate momentum for action in Congress,” said Masen Davis, Freedom for All Americans’ CEO. “We are strong where our opposition thought us weak. We’ve learned how to build robust and inclusive coalitions that demonstrate the depth of support for LGBTQ Americans – and we saw once again last night that when we build those strong coalitions, and when we center our own voices and help our friends and neighbors understand the insidious toll discrimination takes on each of us, we win. Now it’s time to roll-up our sleeves and get back to work. At Freedom for All Americans, we now have a window of opportunity to move the needle in key states, galvanize progress at the federal level, and achieve transformational improvements nationwide for all LGBTQ Americans.”
FFAA invested approximately $1.5 million in Massachusetts over the last three years, including about a quarter of its organizational budget for the last year. The significant investment paid off — the successful Freedom for All Massachusetts campaign united Bay Staters from all walks of life in support of treating transgender people fairly and equally. It’s a campaign strategy that has proven successful three times in just the last seven months – in defending transgender nondiscrimination protections at the ballot in Anchorage and Massachusetts, and in successfully passing a transgender nondiscrimination bill in New Hampshire. The strategy will inform efforts in 2019 priority states where advocates can move the needle and advance comprehensive and explicit LGBTQ nondiscrimination bills.
The Trump administration has taken a steady spate of anti-LGBTQ actions in the last two years that highlight the urgent need for a federal and comprehensive nondiscrimination law — most recently, floating the idea of essentially erasing transgender people in the eyes of federal civil rights laws. Currently, 19 states have explicit and comprehensive laws that fully protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. Additionally, five appellate courts have ruled that existing federal laws – like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 – prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Amidst a patchwork of protections that is constantly roiled by the Trump administration, it’s increasingly clear that a federal law is the cleanest way to ensure lasting LGBTQ protections.
“Strong support for LGBTQ equality at home is one of the most important things lawmakers in Congress can see as they’re considering a federal bill,” added Davis. “Freedom for All Americans is committed to partnering with advocates and activists in states where we have an opportunity to enact real change. We believe we can advance LGBTQ protections in more states, while building a lasting network of support that will help generate momentum in Congress. It’s still a challenging time for many LGBTQ people because of this administration’s efforts to undermine our human dignity – but this week’s elections prove that the vast majority of Americans are on our side – and the wind is now at our backs.”
Last night’s elections yielded a number of important milestones for the LGBTQ community beyond the historic victory in Massachusetts. Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to win a gubernatorial race, while Kate Brown – the first openly bisexual person to serve as a governor – was elected to a full term in Oregon. A number of candidates will become the first openly LGBTQ people to represent their states in the U.S. House of Representatives — including Angie Craig from Minnesota, Sharice Davids from Kansas, and Chris Pappas from New Hampshire. And Republican Governors Chris Sununu and Charlie Baker – who have supported and signed transgender nondiscrimination laws in their respective states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts — both sailed to re-election while simultaneously advocating for transgender equality.
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.