Celebrate Pride By Voting

This comes a little late, but it just occurred to me that Primary Day in Maine falls on the same week as Pride Week. Coincidence? Most likely.

But there’s a reason Pride exists and why, today, we so openly celebrate it in Portland, Bangor, Belfast, and other towns and cities across Maine.

Brave people came out and came forward in times that were less LGBTQ-friendly. They protested, marched, lobbied, voted and got their families, neighbors, and friends to vote for equality.

As millennials and whatever they call kids in the next generation, we do owe those who came before us a debt of gratitude; one that can only be satisfied if we continue to fight against the injustices that plague the times we live in.

One of the ways in which we do that is by voting. And not just in a presidential election year. LGBTQ people need to vote at every level, whether it’s for dogcatcher, city councilor, state legislators, district attorneys, and governors.

LGBTQ people cannot afford to sit on the sidelines in both local, midterm, and general elections. That’s part of the reason why we got swamped in the most recent election. The GOP focused on state and local elections and got the numbers they needed to control and gerrymander districts in their favor. GOP voters also are more likely to vote in off-year and midterm elections, as well as presidential elections.

And those who want to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights and equality are reaping what they sow with President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in office.

Need more reasons to vote? Just look at this list from GLAAD:

— 5.11.18 – The Trump administration rolls back protections for incarcerated transgender people that were intended to mitigate their exposure to sexual assault and abuse, allowing the Bureau of Prisons to “use biological sex as the initial determination for designation” when placing trans people for housing, screening, and programs and services.

— 5.3.18 – President Trump signs an executive order to create a new “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” that will be tasked with working on so-called “religious liberty” issues across federal agencies.

— 4.18.18 – Reporting reveals that President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief gave a sizable grant to the anti-LGBTQ group Focus on the Family Africa on Sept. 18, 2017.

— 4.10.18 – Reporting reveals that the White House is seeking to roll back vital data collection on LGBTQ youth by raising the minimum age that LGBTQ people can be asked questions about their sexual orientation and gender identity in the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey.

— 3.23.18 – Reporting in Slate reveals that the Trump Administration worked closely with Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council to draft their latest policy to implement Trump’s ban transgender soldiers from openly serving in any capacity within the United States armed forces.

— 3.23.18 – President Trump announces a reworked attempt to ban all transgender people from serving in the military in response to the implementation of his original policy being frozen by four different federal courts who declared it likely to be unconstitutional.

— 3.20.18 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development defends the Trump Administration’s decision to remove guidelines from its website intended to prevent anti-LGBTQ discrimination in homeless shelters by arguing that transgender women accessing shelters make people “not comfortable.”

— 3.20.18 – The Department of Education once again states that it is the Trump Administration’s position to refuse to protect transgender students denied access to bathrooms and lockers based on their gender identity, even when faced with court rulings reaffirming that transgender students are protected under Title IX.

— 3.13.18 – President Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and announces plans to nominate anti-LGBTQ and anti-Mulsim politician Mike Pompeo as his replacement.

— 3.8.18 – President Trump hosts Brent Bozell, the anti-LGBTQ founder of the fringe right-wing group Media Resource Center, at a White House roundtable.

— 3.5.18 – The Department Housing and Urban Development Secretary moved to change its official mission statement by removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities.

— 2.28.18 – Following Billy Graham’s death, Trump overlooks his anti-LGBTQ record and praised the work of Franklin Grahman who has used the legacy of his father to advance extreme anti-LGBTQ messaging including attacking LGBTQ families and claiming that Satan is behind LGBTQ advocacy.

— 2.12.18 – The Department of Education officially confirms they will not investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity,

— 1.19.18 – Reporting reveals that Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie had made extreme racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ comments on the radio. He was removed from his White House position but then hired by “America First Policies,” a nonprofit created by six of Trump’s top campaign aides to back the White House agenda.

— 1.18.18 – The Department of Health and Human Services created a new department that shields healthcare workers who refuse to treat LGBTQ patients or those living with HIV by calming moral or religious objections.

— 1.16.18 – President Trump promotes anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions in his Religious Freedom Day proclamation.

— 12.29.17 – President Trump fires the entire White House Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

— 12.22.17 – President Trump sings the GOP tax bill, which targets low-income and LGBTQ communities, into law.

— 12.15.17 – Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at were instructed not to use the “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in official budget documents.

— 12.5.17 – White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tells reporters that President Trump backs the position that businesses owners should be able to put up signs saying they won’t serve gays.

— 12.5.17 – The Department of Justice argues in support of baker who denied service to a gay couple during the Supreme Court oral arguments for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

— 12.4.17 – President Trump endorses Roy Moore, who has a violently anti-LGBTQ record and multiple well-documented accusations of sexual assault, abuse, and assessment, in the Alabama special Senate Election.

— 12.1.17 – President Trump leaves the LGBTQ community and people of color out of his World AIDS Day Proclamation.

— 10.17.17 – President Trump delivers the keynote address an the anti-LGBTQ Heritage Foundation President’s Club annual meeting.

— 10.16.17 – In a profile on Vice President Mike Pence that ran in the New Yorker, President Trump reportedly joked of Pence when asked about LGBTQ rights: “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

— 10.13.17 – President Trump becomes the first sitting president to speak at the Family Reseach Council‘s Values Voter Summit, a convening of fringe groups united around discrimination against LGBTQ people.

— 10.11.17 – The Trump Administration’s National Park Services withdrew its sponsorship of New York City’s first permanent Pride Flag, located outside of the historic Stonewall Inn, and dropped out of its pre-scheduled participation in the flag dedication ceremony.

— 10.6.17– The Department of Justice issues a sweeping “religious exemptions” guidance which invites taxpayer-funded federal agencies, government employees, and government contractors to legally discriminate against LGBTQ employees as long as they cite a religious belief as the reason for doing it.

— 10.6.17 – The Department of Health and Human Services rolls back the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, allowing the use of “religious exemptions” to deny health care to women, trans men, and gender non-conforming people who rely on the no-copay contraception benefit.

— 10.5.17 – In a Department of Justice memo, the Trump Administration reverses a policy that provided non-discrimination protections for transgender people in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

— 10.3.17 – The Department of Health and Human Services erases all mentions of the LGBTQ community and their health needs in its strategic plan for the fiscal year 2018-2022.

— 9.22.17 – The Education Department rescinds the Obama Administration-era Title IX guidance on investigating campus sexual assault; LGBTQ students experience sexual harassment at disproportionately high rates.

— 9.8.17 – Reporting reveals the CIA canceled a planned speech about diversity and LGBTQ rights set to be given by Judy and Dennis Shepard, founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

— 9.7.17 – The Justice Department files an amicus brief in support files an amicus brief in support so-called “religious exemptions” to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.

— 9.7.17 – The Education Department announces they will roll back Obama Administration-era Title IX guidelines which protected sexual assault survivors on college and university campuses.

— 9.7.17 – President Trump nominates Gregory Katsas, who worked behind the scenes to promote the implementation of the trans military ban and revoke federal guidelines that protect transgender students from discrimination, to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Circuit of D.C.

— 9.7.17 – President Trump nominates Jeff Mateer, who has an extensive anti-LGBTQ record including calling trans children part of “Satan’s plan,” to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

— 9.5.17 – President Trump ends the DACA program, which protected an estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, including 36,000 LGBTQ DREAMers, from detention and deportation.

— 8.27.17 – Reporting reveals the CIA consulted with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

— 8.25.17 – President Trump officially directs the Pentagon to move forward with his ban on transgender service members openly serving in the U.S. Military. The discriminatory policy is due to take effect take effect March 23, 2018.

— 8.25.17 – President Trump pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a criminal known for terrorizing the Latinx community with inmate abuses, unjustified arrests, and racial profiling.

— 8.12.17 – President Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who chanted violently racist and anti-LGBTQ slogans during a rally in Charlottesville, VA.

— 8.3.17 – President Trump nominates L. Steven Grasz, who has close ties to the anti-LGBTQ group Focus on the Family, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

— 7.26.17 – An official White House webpage directs readers to an article published by the anti-LGBTQ Heritage Foundation that calls being transgender a “psychological disorder.”

— 7.26.17 – The Justice Department files a brief opposing workplace nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the case Zarda v. Altitude Express.

— 7.26.17 – President Trump bans transgender servicemembers from serving in “any capacity” in the U.S. military, threatening to fire 15,000 currently serving troops over Twitter.

— 7.25.17 – Reporting reveals Vice President Mike Pence advocated for the removal of healthcare benefits for transgender servicemembers within the U.S. military behind closed doors.

— 7.13.17 – President Trump nominates Mark Norris, who supported legislation that allowed mental health counselors to discriminate against LGBTQ clients during his time as a TN state senator,  to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

— 7.12.17 – President Trump grants a one-on-one interview with Pat Robertson, a longtime anti-LGBTQ activist and Televangelist.

— 7.10.17 – In a closed-door and unannounced opportunity, President Trump poses for a photograph with notorious anti-LGBTQ activists who wish to promote so-called “religious exemptions” that would harm LGBTQ Americans across the nation.

— 6.29.17 – Reports revealed President Trump hired anti-transgender activist, Bethany Kozma, to the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights at the US Agency for International Development.

— 6.28.17 – The Department of Justice ejected reporters covering a DOJ Pride event hosted by LGBTQ affinity groups for federal workers.

— 6.27.17 – The Trump Administration failed to mention the LGBTQ community in their National HIV Testing Day statement.

— 6.21.17 – Reporting reveals President Trump hired a lawyer who openly supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBTQ law banning so-called “gay propaganda” from Russia, a law that Europe’s top human rights court found to be illegal.

— 6.17.17 – Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned saying that President Trump “simply does not care” about combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

— 6.16.17 – An obtained internal memo from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights reveals guidelines to dismiss complaints about bathroom access filed by transgender students.

— 6.15.17 – Department of Commerce removes sexual orientation and gender identity from the agency’s Equal Employment Policy; LGBTQ protections have been explicitly included since 2010. Only after fierce opposition did Department of Commerce Secretary Ross change it back.

— 6.15.17 – The Department of Education invites Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, two anti-LGBTQ organizations, to be speakers for a day-long conference on engaging fathers in their children’s education and welfare.

— 6.15.17 – The Department of Education rolls back the Office for Civil Rights’ expansive approach to investigating civil rights complaints that to protect LGBTQ students, and other marginalized communities, from discrimination at school.

— 6.7.17 – President Trump nominates Stephen S. Schwartz, who worked with North Carolina legislators in support of the anti-trans legislation HB2, to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

— 6.1.17 – President Trump declines to issue a presidential proclamation designating June as LGBTQ Pride Month, breaking with an eight-year precedent set by President Barack Obama to honor and support LGBTQ Americans during Pride Month.

— 5.23.17 – The Trump Administration reveals their budget which includes proposed slashes to programs and departments critical to the LGBTQ community, including Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Disease Control’s HIV and AIDS programs.

— 5.22.17 – The Trump Administration grants White House press credentials to a “reporter” from Infowars, a conspiracy outlet that regularly peddles dangerous, offensive and anti-LGBTQ content.

— 5.8.17 – Department of Agriculture issues new so-called “religious freedom” policy statement, a move praised by the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council.

— 5.4.17 – President Trump signs a “religious liberty” executive order. Although this EO does not target LGBTQ Americans, it is the first step in what could be a more broader permission slip for discrimination against the overall LGBTQ community.

— 4.14.17 – The Trump Administration files to dismiss a lawsuit accusing North Carolina of discriminating against the LGBTQ community in response to HB2, despite the similarities of the HB142 replacement.

— 4.10.17: A ProPublica investigation reveals the Trump Administration appointed James Renne, a key staffer involved in the Bush-era anti-LGBTQ purge of gay government employees, to a senior role at the Department of Agriculture.

— 3.28.17: The Trump Administration cancels plans to add the LGBTQ community to its upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, a survey conducted every decade by the federal government to help collect data about living Americans and the United States of America.

— 3.28.17: Under his proposed budget for the U.S. Congress, The Trump Administration offered to cut HIV and AIDS research funding under the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

— 3.24.17: President Trump appointed anti-LGBTQ activist and former Heritage Foundation employee Roger Severino to lead the Health and Human Services Civil Rights Office, putting the LGBTQ community at risk of losing access to critical and affordable health care.

— 3.20.17: Trump Administration erases the LGBTQ community from The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, key surveys that are used to help provide care to American seniors – including disability, transportation, and caregiver support needs.

— 2.22.17 – With help of Attorney General Sessions, President Trump rescinded Title IX protections for transgender students in our nation’s schools.

— 2.02.17: ABC News reports that after previously committing to protecting LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, President Trump and his administration had drafted a “License to Discriminate” executive order which would usher in across-the-board discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

— 1.27.17: President Donald Trump issued an executive order to indefinitely ban Syrian refugees from entering the United States. This ban includes LGBTQ refugees fleeing the nation in fear of discrimination.

— 1.20.17: Minutes after Donald Trump was sworn into office, any mention of the LGBTQ community were erased from White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor websites.

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