Kost: ‘Your vote is your voice, and your vote can hurt.’

Something that has been on my mind recently is this phrase: “No matter who you vote for, we can still be friends.” While I understand the sentiment, I don’t know if I agree. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own political opinion, and that should be respected. Tax plans, for example, are topics we can respectfully disagree on. Equal rights, however, should not be up for debate.

Even though I identify with the LGBTQ+ community, people see me first as a white male. I recognize the privilege I hold, and I understand that many people in the community who have intersecting identities are already at an extreme disadvantage, far more than I am. Listen to them, advocate for them and meet their needs. I do not represent every member of the community, but I wish to speak on anti-LGBTQ+ policy that the community faces as a whole.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I believe I deserve fair treatment under the law. My friends may say they love and appreciate me for who I am, but they will still vote for an administration that actively tries to deny me rights and fair treatment.

Many conservatives believe in equality for the LGBTQ+ community, at least 50%, according to a national poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. Some Republican politicians are pro-LGBTQ+. However, when the specific candidate you voted for is actively trying to deny us rights, your words as an ally hold no weight.

I will not attack Donald Trump’s character here. What I will do, though, is hold him accountable for his actions. The Trump administration does not advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Why, within hours of Trump assuming the presidency in 2017, did his administration delete information on LGBTQ+ rights and representation off of government websites?

Trump may be in favor of marriage equality, but a quick look at the Republican Party platform for both 2016 and 2020 refutes this. Page 32 of the platform directly attacks the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, stating, “we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

The Trump administration has not been a friend to the LGBTQ+ community, and it is seen through its discriminatory policies. 

In May 2019, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Equality Act, which guaranteed national non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. Despite support from much of the U.S. population, including many conservatives, Trump opposed the act.

He has advocated for eliminating LGBTQ+ protections under the Affordable Care Act, allowed foster care systems to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and implemented countless other discriminatory policies regarding transgender students in schools. 

The sad part is there are many more instances showing off the Trump administration’s homophobic policies and remarks. I encourage you to do more research.

Friends support friends. If you are willing to sacrifice basic human rights for the sake of whatever issue you hold important, I don’t know how we could continue our friendship.

I will continue to be civil, and I’m open to having conversation about it, of course. But the issue becomes personal. I hope that one day both parties would have candidates who advocate for the rights and liberties of my community. In this election, however, that clearly was not the case.

There is still work to be done, though. Just because President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris assume office in January does not mean that homophobia, racism and xenophobia are magically erased. There is still work to be done to break down the barriers that hold all systemically non-dominant groups back in our country.

I’m not going to call you homophobic if you voted for Trump. However, a vote for Trump means that after witnessing the blatant discrimination his administration implemented, you were willing to turn a blind eye to your friends, family, fellow students and millions of other Americans who seek justice in this country. 

Your vote is your voice, and your vote can hurt. For that, I don’t know how we could be friends.

  1. This is so true! I appreciate the civility in this email and I thank you for sharing your truth. This is a great way write about a struggle you deal with. I also appreciate the factual inclusions. Keep doing amazing things!!

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