Thursday, October 28, 2010
In a letter, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis reminds the LGBT Community how important this election is:
Yes, we’ve all heard that simple phrase before – but so often we forget it. And as we stand on the doorstep of an election that will again decide the course of our government, our community is locked into an energetic and serious debate about how to engage, or whether to even engage at all in the midterm elections this November.
Why? Our community is frustrated with the pace of change. And as three LGBT Members of Congress, we share your frustration. Despite this, an apathetic stance during such a critical time is fruitless.
We need not look too far into the past to see how inaction and
complacency truly pays us back. Under Republican rule, we not only suffered from a lack of victories, but truly devastating setbacks. We all remember President Bush and the Republican Congress pushing for a Federal Marriage Amendment for political purposes and using our community as a wedge to advocate for state-wide marriage amendments across the nation. Republicans make no secret of their opposition to seemingly nonpartisan issues such as adoption by gay & lesbian couples despite the thousands of children in need of homes.
And we all remember federal agencies being told to ignore any grant request that said gay or LGBT, including grants for HIV/AIDS funding.
There has, indeed, been progress under the Obama Administration. In the 111th Congress, we passed the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Federal Hate Crimes Act, admittedly no small feat, while the State Department adopted inclusive passport procedures recognizing and accommodating our transgender brothers and sisters. Our voice was further strengthened when we achieved medical decision parity in America’s hospitals and strengthened polices that prevented discrimination against housing applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Is it enough? No. The fight for equality is far from over. We face obstruction at every turn and it is incumbent upon us to push harder to ensure swift action on the issues that affect us most.
Next month, the courageous and steadfast activism of the past year must be met by a vote cast on November 2nd. We ask that you look at your local ballot and scrutinize and measure candidates running for each seat. Which candidates do you see supporting issues that affect our community, which will champion our causes? Whether it is for employment non-discrimination, the repeal of DOMA or Federal Partnership benefits? Which candidates even believe LGBT issues merit space on their campaign website?
Elections matter. They matter to our country and to our community. We must go out and vote this November to ensure the forward momentum we have struggled for continues for our benefit and for that of future generations of LGBT individuals.