More LGBTQ people than ever were elected to positions up and down the ballot last November, creating a rainbow wave of new queer elected officials. Of 432 openly LGBTQ candidates that ran, more than 240 won their elections, according to the Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ political representation.
Now those candidates are banding together to ask the incoming Congressional members to prioritize LGBTQI issues. 152 LGBTQ elected officials, including state senators, mayors, representatives, and councilmembers, who attended a Victory Fund conference last week drafted a series of requests for the new Congress.
The letter focuses on four key issues ranging from HIV/AIDS research to protecting the rights of queer asylum seekers. First, the letter calls for passing The Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination and segregation based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The letter explains that “thirty states still lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, meaning that LGBTQI people are at risk of being fired, denied housing, and denied services for who they are or whom they love. Nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQI Americans reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives.”
The letter also calls for reducing the number of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses by establishing a Congressional Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS and explicitly addressing the disparities that cause higher rates of HIV/AIDS in communities of color. The letter also demands that the new congress protect transgender people from several changes that the Trump administration has tried to put forward by opposing “all efforts” of the administration to limit the definition of gender to exclude trans identities. Finally, the letter asks the new Congress to reject changes to asylum law that would make it harder for LGBTQ asylum seekers to find protection in the United States and to more fully integrate LGBTQ rights into our foreign policy throughout the world.