By Maya Henry, New Media Council
Politics and elections can feel–and be–daunting, and it’s easier to dismiss as an issue for grown-ups. Now more than ever, politics are an issue for everyone, especially for youth, our world’s future. From last November 3rd to this year, more than four million youth have become eligible to vote nationwide. Four million is nearly double the margin that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by in 2016. In this way, youth hold the power to swing the entire election.
Much more is on the line this November than past elections. With COVID-19 relentlessly raging strong throughout the country, the economy on the brink of recession, and the treatment of immigrants at the border growing increasingly dire, to name a few issues, those elected to the White House and Congress hold great power over our lives.
A record setting number of LGBTQ+ matters will be up for debate by politicians as well. Since January of 2017, the Trump administration has implemented some of the most restrictive policies on LGBTQ+ rights the nation has seen since the early 2000s. From banning of Transgender people serving in the military to the nearly successful overturning of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that protects Trans people from healthcare discrimination, the current administration has made its stance on issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community crystal clear.
The rights and lives of LGBTQ+ folks are still at stake and resting precariously on the 2020 election. The same Supreme Court that blocked Trump’s attempt at overturning Section 1557 is soon to gain Amy Coney Barrett, a historically right leaning judge, which means that healthcare providers’ refusal to serve Trans clients could become legal. There are also new vocal challenges to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges officially legalizing same-sex marriage. While the prior matters rely heavily on the President-elect, the Equality Act rests almost entirely on Congress. The act is put up for vote nearly every term and was last struck down by the conservative Senate majority after the House passed it in summer of 2019. The Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexuality on a national level, as well as expanding the protections of womxn, disabled people, and people of color in the workplace.
If your state still accepts voter registration, register immediately and make plans for casting your vote. If not, or if you aren’t eligible to vote, you can absolutely still help swing this election. There are countless last minute phone banking, text banking, and postcarding operations in full swing that accept any and all ages, and encourage voters to get to the polls.
Every election, no matter the level or year, is important. The 2020 Presidential election is no exception. Our generation and those that will come after us will have to live with the consequences of discriminatory policies, be it when applying for jobs, registering for healthcare, or adopting children. The LGBTQ+ community and the rights of its members are balancing on this election; use your voice and your vote to stand up for and protect them.