Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Our rights as LGBTQ individuals are in a state of flux, and the 2020 election will be a turning point in our community’s history. We at Options wanted to hear your perspectives on the November election to see what issues matter most to you.
Army National Guard veteran Jay Potter explains, “My right to exist has been threatened – housing, healthcare, the right to adopt, and my rejection from the military – all are correlated to this election cycle's staunch turn to Christian Conservatism.” Jay’s status as a post-op, intersex veteran left him in the line of fire when President Trump signed an executive order that vaporized the previous administration’s cumulative and inclusive policy on trans and intersex soldiers serving in the military.
“The [Obama] policy worked. It actually increased unit cohesion… Soldiers were embraced as who they were for the first time, [and] were performing better than ever,” says Jay. Since Trump’s decree, “Seasoned soldiers [with] two or more tours in Iraq were unceremoniously discharged, losing their retirement, healthcare, and housing. It was easy to pick them off one by one.”
Jay left the military in 2013, with the expectation to return in 2019 as a mental health provider. His livelihood hangs in the balance of this election. “We don’t want special treatment; we just want to continue serving our country the way we always have, but without the secrecy.”
Samantha Jones, a trans woman, says, “I have experienced discrimination and [lost] three different jobs because of who I am, so I understand there is a really big cause for concern.” Samantha alluded to the Equality Act, which would prohibit the discrimination that she has endured. 2020 could be the year that the act finally passes Congress, though President Trump has been outspoken in his opposition to this legislation. “[The Trump administration] isn’t being truthful to us,” she says. “Let’s not forget that they were saying they would fight for our rights back in 2016, and look at all of the things that he has done since”
When asked if she feels that leading Democratic candidates would expeditiously fight for the Equality Act, Samantha explains, “Bernie has been fighting for transgender rights since the 1960s. Biden being a Republican up until 1997, for all we know, he could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Brian Merrill (in cover photo), a 59-year-old gay realtor living in Providence, says he’s somewhat concerned about marriage. “I don’t think they would ever take that away from us, but I’ve heard rumblings of it.” He went on to say: “Healthcare is a huge issue for people, not just LGBT. We’re the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide healthcare to its citizens. It’s ridiculous.” The prevalence of surprise medical bills, high deductibles, and uncovered life-saving treatments makes healthcare a huge consideration in this election.
Thirty-six-year-old Stephen McGuire is a Department of Defense subcontractor, union employee, and VP of a local nonprofit. “We as the LGBTQIA+ community have more to fight for than ever before. Our rights are being peeled back little by little and our president and the Republican-controlled senate will make it impossible to change…. It shouldn’t matter if your preferred candidate didn’t make it. What matters is that we move the USA forward on all policies – and to do that, vote blue this year."
In true non-partisan spirit, we tried to obtain an LGBTQ Republican’s perspective for this story. Evidently, the pickings are slim and the individual that we were able to contact refused to provide comments.
In summation, these voices from our community offer perspectives I’m sure we can all relate to on some level. As you watch the news and collect your information for the 2020 election, remain mindful of the candidates’ stance on the issues discussed here, and take into account your own perspective. A simple way for your voice to be heard is by voting. Complacency accomplishes nothing, so get out there and vote to secure basic rights for yourself and the rest of our community.