The Ugly Hits Home
While we were away, ringing in the new year, toasting to health and happiness, there was an outbreak in Delaware. Not mumps, not measles, not even a new avian flu. This, in some ways, was much worse. This was an outbreak of local, homegrown ugliness; the latest in pandemics.
This was not the welcome back column I had been thinking to write. But it became the column that I had to write. Because if the age-old adage “all politics are local” is true, we need to look at our own backyard right now.
In Sussex County, Nelly Jordan, at the time Vice Chair of the Delaware Republican Party, went on Facebook to denounce impeachment by singling out Jewish people and claiming those who support impeachment are Jews “in name only.” The Sussex County Republican Committee responded timely, voting to remove Ms. Jordan from her position
New Castle County Republican Party Chairman, Chris Rowe, is resigning after using a derogatory term for a gay man in a Facebook post. Rowe told the Associated Press he’s resigning “begrudgingly and only under duress.” He is quoted as saying, “I serve at her pleasure,” referencing GOP chairwoman Jane Brady, who appointed him to the post in June. However, Rowe told the Delaware News Journal he won’t apologize for using the slur calling it “locker room talk” with a close friend, saying he isn’t homophobic.
Welcome to our 2020 “local politics.” And the only long-term answer is to vote. You know, I can hear you saying, “but I vote.” But the hard truth is, not all of you do.
Now some people cannot vote for various reasons. Not an American, for example. But others, I don’t know, don’t understand, and can’t explain. So I went searching.
From the Williams Institute of Law I learned nearly nine million LGBT adults are registered and eligible to vote in the 2020 general election. Fifty percent of LGBT voters identify as Democrats, 15 percent Republicans, 22 percent Independents, and 13 percent with another party or undecided which party they most identify with. Also, LGBT voters are racially diverse, nearly half (47 percent) are under age 35, and one-third have at least a college education.
I’m thinking our youth quotient might perhaps be one of our strengths, but also, one of our challenges. LGBT voters, like the LGBT adult population overall, skew younger than non-LGBT voters.
The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971. Flashback to Barry McGuire singing “Eve of Destruction”: we were “old enough to kill, but not for voting.” Young people were angry, demanding to be heard.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy stated, “We will gain a group of enthusiastic, sensitive, idealistic, and vigorous new voters.”
Alas, Senator Kennedy was wrong.
There are a myriad of reasons why young people don’t vote, including the registration process is intimidating for them, not having access to proper IDs or paperwork, not thinking futuristically, as in ‘register now, so I can vote then,’ and some believe their vote won’t make a difference.
In a 2019 Williams Institute publication, The 2020 LGBT Vote, it’s reported that of the US’s adult LGBT community, 47 percent of voters are ages 18-34, compared to only 21 percent of non-LGBT voters. Add to this, we are racially and economically diverse causing a doubling down on some of the challenges we must meet to rock this vote.
For the record, only one-fifth (20 percent) of LGBT voters are age 55 and older compared to 40 percent of non-LGBT voters. (A statistic I think could explain Florida!)
Donald Trump won the 2016 election by 38 electoral votes.* If LGBTQ voters had swayed any combination of the following states, Hillary Clinton would have won instead: Michigan + Wisconsin + Pennsylvania, or Florida + Pennsylvania, or Florida + Michigan, or Florida + Wisconsin
For the record:
STATE | TRUMP’S MARGIN OF VICTORY | LGBTQ+ WHO DIDN’T VOTE
Michigan | 13,081 | 152,330
Wisconsin | 27,257 | 79,112
Pennsylvania | 68,223 | 190,557
Florida | 114,555 | 358,298
The takeaway: we can be the difference.
The time is NOW! Have a barbecue, invite friends over, and make sure everyone you know is registered. Talk about how slim this margin is, help unregistered voters with the process, tell them their voice counts—but their votes count even more.
According to HRC (the Human Rights Campaign), in 2017, anti-queer legislators in 30 states introduced 129 pieces of legislation curtailing LGBTQ rights, and it’s only gotten worse. Look again at those numbers. Know we can be the change, but only if we take the initiative and make it happen. One thing I know for sure, if we don’t, Chris Rowe and Nelly Jordan are only the tip of that iceberg of unapologetic hate.▼
*From Fifty States of Queer, available at: them.us
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series the Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, On a LARP, Zero Sum Game, and Say Her Name.