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Midterm elections | The LGBTQ+ community is “preparing for the worst”

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For years, LGBTQ+ Americans have been used to being targeted by conservative politicians. The recent ruling on abortion has members of the community fearing a rollback of their rights. The Press went to meet activists from a Detroit organization.

(Detroit, Michigan) In rendering its decision on abortion last June, the Supreme Court of the United States decided: the voluntary termination of pregnancy is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.

One of the magistrates went further.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all the substantive precedents of this Court in terms of usual procedure, in particular Griswold, lawrence and Oberfell “wrote in the decision the judge Clarence Thomas.

For LGBTQ+ people, the sentence confirmed a fear already present since the conservatives became the majority in the highest court in the country: acquired rights are no guarantee of the future.

gay marriage

Griswold, lawrence and Oberfell refers to three past decisions validating the right of a married couple to use contraception, the decriminalization of sodomy and same-sex marriage.

This last right, confirmed in 2015 by the Supreme Court, is “certainly the most threatened”, judge Jerron Totten, social justice coordinator for LGBT Detroit.


PHOTO JANIE GOSSELIN, THE PRESS

Jerron Totten, LGBT Detroit Social Justice Coordinator

We have discussions with our partners across Michigan to prepare for the worst, as we have in our discussions for reproductive freedom.

Jerron Totten, LGBT Detroit Social Justice Coordinator

In the two neighboring buildings that house LGBT Detroit — which prides itself as the largest nonprofit LGBT organization founded and run by African Americans in North America — strategies are hatched to win over voters in the community to vote in the midterm elections.

Door to door, phone calls, text messages, festive activities. Everything to “get the vote out” on November 8. Without having the right to influence choices because of its tax status – unlike its activist arm, LGBT Detroit Mobilization, which works closely with Reproductive Freedom for All, a group that tries to enshrine the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution during the midterm elections.

Targeted by politicians

The LGBTQ+ community is particularly targeted by Republican candidates across the country. Florida has passed a law to limit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. The country’s Supreme Court is due to decide soon in the case of a Colorado web designer who invokes her freedom of expression to refuse same-sex couples as clients.

Issues of gender identity in children and the participation of trans people in sports competitions in the gender with which they identify have been taken up by several Republican candidates.

In Michigan, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon backed a move to criminalize children’s participation in drag shows.

“There is no evidence that there is a problem, that there are inappropriate discussions or inappropriate drag shows in schools,” said Catherine Archibald, associate professor of law at the University of Detroit. Mercy and specialist in LGBTQ+ legal issues. “It seems to be more of a political way to play on people’s fears, at the expense of Michigan’s LGBT community, which has made gains in recent years. »

One of those victories came last summer: the state Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is included in the concept of sex discrimination. A company cannot therefore refuse to serve a person on the pretext that they are gay, the judges ruled.

Challenges

The portraits of Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Bayard Rustin and Malcolm X, emblematic figures of the struggle for civil rights in the United States, sit enthroned at the entrance to the premises of LGBT Detroit. In a city where more than 75% of residents are black, the equity issues that drive the organization go beyond gender discrimination alone.

But the challenges of convincing voters to vote or to take an interest in issues that are often far removed from their daily lives remain daunting for a population marked by economic difficulties and violence. A third of Detroit residents lived in poverty in 2021, according to the latest census data.

And that was before the last price spike.


PHOTO JANIE GOSSELIN, THE PRESS

Tashawna Gill, coordinator at LGBT Detroit Mobilization

People are worried about the price of rent, gasoline, they ask: “Am I even going to be able to go to vote?”

Tashawna Gill, coordinator at LGBT Detroit Mobilization

“People are so stressed about money, how important is abortion to them? With wealthier people, the woman in her home may have more time to focus on the abortion. In contrast to the African-American woman who has five jobs, takes care of her family, worries about her wallet and wonders how she will be able to feed her children, ”adds Ms.me Gil.

“Every election is about the economy,” notes political consultant Al Williams, who has worked with Democratic candidates, including to educate them about African American concerns. The issues dear to the black community of Detroit, according to him? “The quality of life, the economy, how to put more money in people’s pockets, work, education, peace”, enumerates the man behind his tinted glasses.

“In Detroit, we need people to come out and vote, but they’re dealing with so many things,” said Ms.me Gil. How can we ask them to focus on our rights being taken away from us and how will that impact in the future versus what impacts them now? This is the challenge we face. »



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