GLAAD along with Equality Virginia Advocates, the leading LGBTQ advocacy organization in Virginia, today announce urgent new efforts to get LGBTQ voters to the polls in the final days before Election Day, as Virginia chooses its next governor.
Emmy-winning star of the breakthrough LGBTQ comedy “Will and Grace” and GLAAD Media Award winner Debra Messing recorded voicemails for LGBTQ and ally voters in Virginia. Listen to the message here.
“It is essential that LGBTQ voters realize and exercise their power in this critically important election,” said Equality Virginia Advocates Executive Director Vee Lamneck. “We expect our elected officials to protect all of the progress that has recently been made for LGBTQ Virginians, which is why we cannot afford for anyone to sit out this election. There’s too much at stake. LGBTQ and ally voters must come out early to vote or out on Election Day to keep equality moving forward.”
“There are no “off years” for LGBTQ voters – we must do everything we can to speak up, show up, demand that our elected leaders represent all of us and commit to protecting LGBTQ youth,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. “LGBTQ voters and our allies must send an unequivocal message across Virginia and the entire country for the midterm elections and beyond, that we prioritize LGBTQ equality and safety, and we will never sit back and watch our hard-fought progress be rolled back. Virginia will once again lead the way.”
Messing was honored in 2017 with the GLAAD “Excellence in Media” Award, for her work in the entertainment industry to increase the visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community. She starred in the groundbreaking “Will & Grace,” which was instrumental in changing hearts and minds of countless Americans and earned seven GLAAD Media Awards during both of its runs on broadcast television. A steadfast supporter of the LGBTQ community, Messing has been using her influence and voice on social media to draw attention to the election in Virginia and encourage people to vote.
Polls show a tight contest in Virginia, with the campaign dominated by misinformation about LGBTQ-inclusive schools and transgender students. (See coverage here and here.) 309,000 LGBTQ people live in Virginia, 40% of whom are LGBTQ people of color. 26% of LGBTQ Virginians are raising children.
GLAAD and Equality Virginia Advocates have also updated research on the candidates for governor and how they have responded to LGBTQ issues during the campaign.
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin:
- Refused to say he supports marriage equality, in a recent interview with the Associated Press. Marriage equality has been legal nationwide for six years and is supported by 70% of Americans, a record high.
- Supported parents who inaccurately called award-winning LGBTQ-inclusive books for teenagers “pornography,” and falsely claimed school boards are not listening to parents. School boards across the state have faced heated testimony, profanity and death threats over the state’s transgender inclusive policy and COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Was endorsed by anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council Action.
- Backed a teacher refusing to use authentic pronouns of transgender students, inaccurately claiming it to be “in the best interest of children” despite research showing such behavior increases harassment, violence and suicidal ideation.
- Criticized legislation signed by Gov. Ralph Northam as “radical transgender policies.” Northam signed a nondiscrimination bill into law in 2020 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public places and credit applications.
- Endorsed by politicians who have attacked LGBTQ people via policy and rhetoric, including former President Donald Trump, whose administration targeted LGBTQ Americans more than 200 times, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Rep. Bob Good, and Rep. Morgan Griffith.
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe:
- Featured a lesbian couple in a campaign ad, at whose wedding he had officiated, becoming the first governor of a southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding.
- Reiterated support for protections against discrimination, noting his first executive order as governor after taking office in 2014 banned discrimination against LGBTQ state employees.
- Defended Virginia law requiring the state Department of Education to implement policies to protect transgender students, stating: “I like locals having input obviously on such an important issue, but the state will always issue guidance as we do from the Department of Education. But I have said this before, these children are going through very stressful situations. Why people want to continually demonize children, I just don’t understand. I want every child in Virginia to get a quality education… No matter the color of your skin or whom you love, I believe you should get a great quality education.”
- Supported local school boards for having “the pulse of the local community,” adding, “I hate all of this divisiveness that is going on today. I hate to see our children being demonized today.”
- Responding to Youngkin’s claims about parents objecting to LGBTQ-inclusive books in high school libraries, answered: “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and take books out and make their own decision. I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”