Queer Corner: A Vote for Equality

Steve Dickinson

The upcoming election is becoming the center stage in the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States. Whoever is elected will determine whether or not these rights are eventually granted to LGBT Americans. For years, the LGBT community in the U.S. has fought to have the same rights as heterosexual couples. We’ve been seeking the ability to adopt children into loving homes, visit our partners in the hos-pital as family members and to be treated equally in the workplace regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity. During his presidency, Barack Obama took several giant strides to give LGBT Americans far more rights than we were ever given before.

As president, he repealed the infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies in the U.S. military, giv-ing those serving in our armed forces identifying as LGBT the ability to serve openly and honestly. He also helped to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act – adding the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” to the federal register for the first time in American history. President Obama also became the first president to publically support mar-riage equality and was proud to announce the pursuit of equal rights for LGBT individuals to the Democratic Party’s official platform. Additionally, several steps have been made under the Obama administration to regulate and provide additional funding for HIV/AIDS research and aid.

In contrast, Governor Romney opposes marriage equality, civil unions and the employment non-dis-crimination act (a piece of federal legislation that would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity). If Governor Romney is elected, much of the progress that has been made over the last four years may be for nothing. That is why when my absentee ballot came in the mail I filled in the bubble for President Obama. In my opinion, the American LGBT community cannot afford to lose such a strong ally in the White House. President Obama has delivered on several of his promises to the LGBT community and I only see these fulfilled promises continuing in his next four years.

However, the presidential election is not the only thing that people will be voting for November 6. In four states, marriage equality is being voted on. In Maine, marriage equality is on the ballot to be decided upon by its citizens. In Washington and Maryland, voters are being asked to affirm the actions of those states’ legislatures after they already passed marriage equality bills. In Minnesota, voters have the chance to turn down a constitutional amendment that will ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples. This means that voters in these states not only have the ability to vote on equal rights at the federal level, but at the state level as well.

To conclude: as a member of the LGBT community in this great nation, the choice was very clear to me. I voted for President Obama because I was very pleased to see all of the steps that were made to further the rights of queer individuals in the United States. But regardless of your political opinions, it is important that everyone gets out and votes. Our political system cannot function properly unless all its eligible citizens participate.

Contact Steve Dickinson at [email protected].