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First We Mourn. Then We Fight: Why You Need to Vote and Volunteer Now

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

On Friday morning, September 18, it was crucial for LGBTQ Rhode Islanders that we unelect Donald Trump as President.

I know I don’t have to remind you how bad the current administration has been, but I will, just briefly: their opposition to the Equality Act, the ever-growing number of anti-LGBTQ judges, the roll-back of so many of the LGBTQ protections granted by the Obama administration, including Department of Justice interpretations of the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender and non-binary workers. Plus banning transgender service members and those living with HIV from the military because of who they are or their health status. Then there’s the push to remove protections of the Affordable Care Act for LGBTQ people – and the hypocritical claims that they will improve the ACA with a new plan.

And everything that has been awful about the last four years for white LGBTQ people in this country has been so much worse for LGBTQ people of color. Think of the growing number of black trans women who have been killed, including through police brutality or lack of protection by prison staff.

You know it’s been bad. But now, after Friday evening, September 18, with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the risks are exponentially increased. In other words, you know it can get even worse. We may be able to influence the Supreme Court fight, and we should try hard. But we know we can influence the election, and we must.

If you care about our LGBT community – and if you care about ending police brutality, freeing children in cages at the border, preserving reproductive justice, saving our burning planet, and about the 200,000 people (at this moment) who have died from COVID – you have the power to help fight back.

How? First, by talking to your family, friends, and neighbors in Rhode Island and in the rest of the country.

  1. Are they registered to vote? If not, go to Vote America, where you can check your registration and follow the links to election info from every state and Washington, DC.

  2. Are you registered to vote? (Do the same.)

  3. Do you and your family or friends have a plan to vote? Will you vote by mail? Vote early in person (which you can do in Rhode Island and in many states throughout the country)? Or will you vote on Election Day?

Note: I’m a big fan of early voting in person. I have voted at the Cranston City Hall for most of the recent elections. There’s hardly ever a line (but I’d be happy to wait in one if there was), and I can do it at my convenience. Here’s where to find early vote info for Rhode Island, which runs between October 14 and November 2. And here’s the home page for everything else you need to know about voting in Rhode Island elections. For your friends and family in other states, they can go back to that Vote America page to the election pages for each state.

OK, now that you’ve got the voting details down for everyone you know, you can fight back by volunteering on the election through phoning or texting. I know that it’s hard to find time. It’s sometimes awkward to learn how to use the phone banking or texting software. But compared to how difficult it will be if the Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative tilt, and we still don’t have an LGBTQ-supporting President in the White House or a majority in the US Senate, phone banking could be a breeze!

Here’s how it works:

  • You sit in the comfort of your own home, talking or texting with voters.

  • You use your phone and a computer – or for texting, just a computer.

  • You get trained – and then have support during your shifts. You sign up for shifts that match your schedule.

  • You can have some wonderful conversations with friends you haven’t met yet.

  • Will you talk to some people you don’t agree with? Yes, but just take a breath, and go on to the next call!

How can you get involved? You can fill out this form to learn more about getting involved in phone banks led by Rhode Islanders. We talk to people in key swing states (like Florida, or Nevada) across the country. Or, to join the Democratic National Committee texting team, you can click here.

You can also pay attention to our local races in Rhode Island. We have many LGBTQ-supporting General Assembly and municipal candidates – both incumbents and new candidates – who can use donations or help. You can learn more at the Rhode Island Working Families Party website or at the Reclaim RI website.

Yes, it’s a tough time, and it’s possible to get discouraged. But if we get motivated – and we get active – it’s possible to make change. Thanks in advance for getting involved!

Rhode Islander Marti Rosenberg is a longtime LGBTQ+ activist, community organizer, and political strategist.

*Photo of voters credit: Maryland GovPics/Flickr


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