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“With the impending U.S. presidential election, every person in the United States has their morals and ideals on the ballot,” writes VOX ATL staff writer Piper Skalka. “But for LGBTQ+ Americans like me, our very freedom and lives are at stake.” 

Art by Aidan Ventimiglia

Election 2020: LGBTQ Americans’ Lives Are on the Line [Opinion]

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With the impending U.S. presidential election, every person in the United States has their morals and ideals on the ballot. For immigrants, the right to live in their country. For women, the ability to regulate their own bodies. And for every American, the access to healthcare other Western nations enjoy. But for LGBTQ+ Americans like me, our very freedom and lives are at stake. 

President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for queer Americans. Trump has spent much of his time in office removing federal-level protections for trans students, such as allowing them to use the correct restrooms in public schools. He, along with the Republican-controlled Senate, have confirmed 194 judges in the past four years, one-third of whom have some variety of anti-LGBTQ record.

Trump’s agenda regarding people like me is clear. With the possible addition of Amy Coney Barrett, an extreme Catholic and constitutional originalist, to the Supreme Court, future rulings are very likely to have a conservative bent. Not only will impending cases, such as hate crime laws or “bathroom bills” be decided in the near future, but even the revolutionary Obergefell v Hodges, the court case that legalized gay marriage in the U.S., is in danger of being reversed. If gay marriage was struck down at the Supreme Court level, couples would have to travel to more progressive states to get a marriage certificate, a practice which was incredibly common prior to the 2015 decision. Not only would such a move demean and humiliate LGBTQ Americans to an incredible degree, but violence against gay and trans people would almost certainly increase. 

Even since the 2016 election, hate crimes and violence have surged, especially in rural, conservative states. Being stripped of the right to marry would only legitimize such bigotry. The other main danger of a conservative Supreme Court is the future of transgender Americans. President Trump and the GOP have made their plans for trans people very clear. With the recent passage of anti-trans laws in Idaho and the introduction of a discriminatory bill by Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Republicans are doing everything they can to suppress trans people. If President Trump stays in power, it is likely he will waste no time in implementing a national “bathroom bill”-type ordnance, mandating Americans use the public restroom that corresponds to their assigned gender at birth, which would be consistent with previous Republican-led measures in North Carolina and other states

Trump may justify such actions with claims of predatory men dressing as women to commit sexual crimes, which is the reasoning used by many prominent anti-trans figures, including author JK Rowling. In a post Trump-reelection America, the ability to politically combat such legislation would be incredibly difficult. Today’s America would begin to resemble racially segregated America (legalized from 1896-1964), only this time, transgender people would be the targets. A Trump reelection is extremely dangerous for LGBTQ Americans. 

Now,  Joe Biden, the Democrat’s candidate for president, has a strong record on LGBTQ rights. Aside from appointing the first trans person to ever work in the White House, Biden has condemned Poland’s “LGBT-free zones,” supports expanded civil rights legislation for gay and trans people, and will, according to both his past appointments and the direction of the Democrat Party, appoint pro-gay judges who will help shape civil decisions in the country for decades to come. LGBTQ organizations have discussed their expectation for a continuation of Obama-era policies, such as public-school protections for queer students and anti-discrimination legislature

Something to note if you are still undecided: we know how this ends. The progression of civil rights is ultimately inevitable. Look at how America views the racist politicians of the 1950s and ’60s, who did everything they could to fight the coming change. Americans remember such people as bigots, an embarrassing stain on U.S. history. That pivotal moment has come again, and this election is when every American must choose to either stand with your neighbors, or fight against them. 


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comments (2)

  1. Rhona Robbie

    Piper, this is so important and impressive. Wonderful work. So well written

  2. Grace O’Meara

    This is a super thought-provoking and insightful look on some of the most pressing issues being faced in this year’s election. I loved reading it from a student perspective, as I myself am a student and view these issues in similar ways. You are an amazing writer Piper!