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LGBTQ ISSUES AND THE 2023 ELECTION: GLAAD RELEASES RESEARCH AND URGES MEDIA TO INCLUDE LGBTQ PEOPLE AND FACTS BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER ELECTION DAY, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH
- Last updated: November 6, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY, November 3, 2023) — GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, urges media to report accurately, inclusively and responsibly on the LGBTQ records and platforms of candidates for office in the 2023 election, and the consequences of the election on LGBTQ people.
LGBTQ issues and equality are on the ballot in many states including:
In a race drawing national attention, Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear is seeking re-election, while Republican challenger and current attorney general Daniel Cameron is looking to unseat him. Beshear has vetoed state legislation that targets LGBTQ people.
Additional facts about LGBTQ Kentuckians, the stakes of the governor’s race, and responses from Kentucky’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, here.
On the ballot are candidates for governor of Mississippi, as are all executive offices in the state, and all 52 seats of the Mississippi State Senate, all 122 seats in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and many local offices.
Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves is seeking re-election to a second and final term in office, against Democratic challenger Brandon Presley, currently a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission from the Northern district.
Gov. Reeves has signed restrictive laws targeting LGBTQ Mississippians in health care, schools, and school sports. By January 31, 2023, anti-equality state lawmakers had introduced 31 bills targeting the rights of LGBTQ Mississippians in education and health care, “likely the highest number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in any state legislature so far this year,” say civil rights and LGBTQ advocates in Mississippi.
Mississippi has no statewide nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, family services, or credit.
The Mississippi gubernatorial candidates’ records can be found here.
Virginia’s entire state legislature is up for reelection this November, including all 40 Senate seats and all 100 House seats, as well as multiple local school board and Board of Supervisors races, and a number of local referendums.
Virginia is currently the only Southern state with laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people, passed in 2020 by the pro-equality majorities in the legislature and previous governor. Additional advancements include banning the ineffective and harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” and banning the gay/trans panic defense.
Current Governor Glenn Youngkin has proposed anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion policies, making Virginia’s legislature a potential firewall against additional anti-equality efforts.
See Gov. Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ record here.
Find responses from Virginia’s LGBTQ advocates here.
Visit Virginia’s Department of Elections website to track specific races.
On the ballot in 2023 are elections for school boards, municipal government, and ballot measures, including Issue 1, which would enshrine the right to an abortion and other reproductive health care in the Ohio state constitution.
Abortion is an LGBTQ issue. Many lesbians, bisexual and queer women, nonbinary and intersex people, and transgender men can and do get pregnant—and can and do seek abortion services. In fact, LGBTQ women statistically seek abortion at rates higher than their heterosexual peers.
If Issue 1 passes, Ohio would be the eighth consecutive state since the fall of Roe v Wade to advance access to reproductive health care, joining Michigan, Vermont and California as states that added protections to their state constitutions. In addition, Kansas, Kentucky and Montana voters rejected efforts to roll access back.
Anti-LGBTQ opponents of Issue 1 have lied about the measure and used state resources to do so.
See GLAAD’s guidance for media covering abortion laws and bans here.
Statement from GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis on the stakes of the 2023 election:
“A supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ people and deserve leaders who will speak up for the truth and for everyone’s fundamental freedoms. Vital issues are on the ballot in many states this year. Media must challenge candidate claims and examine the effects of proposed legislation and rhetoric on the lives of real LGBTQ people. As voters, we must examine those who seek public office, reject extremists and extremist agendas, and hold our leaders accountable so that all our communities may be safer and more prosperous.”
Consequences of Elections for LGBTQ People
The results of elections are felt by LGBTQ people in each and every state. This year, like 2022 and 2021, was a record-breaking year in the number of bills targeting LGBTQ people for discrimination, disenfranchisement, and abuse, in healthcare, education, public accommodations and services, and drag performance or entertainment. More than 500 bills were introduced, and though the overwhelming majority of bills fail to advance or become law, the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from elected officials and in the public square continues to cause real-world harm.
While some courts are striking down bans on transgender health care and on drag performances as unconstitutional, equality advocates are up against a hostile U.S. Supreme Court that has signaled its willingness to strike down federal marriage equality, and a new Speaker of the House with an alarming anti-LGBTQ record. Electing pro-equality officials and approving pro-equality ballot measures at the state and local level are increasingly important for LGBTQ citizens.
Below are some of the issues affected by the result of 2023 elections, and resources and more information:
Before 2020, no state had ever introduced legislation to ban health care for transgender Americans, which has been safely prescribed for decades, and has the support of every major medical association and leading health authority. Legislation passed and signed over the last year now means this mainstream, consensus, best practice health care for transgender adults and/or youth is restricted in 22 states. Include statements from 30+ medical associations in support of transgender health care, available here.
Drag bans have now been struck down in multiple states including Tennessee, Florida, Montana and Texas. In the last year, GLAAD has documented at least 160 incidents of violence and threats against drag performances across the country. Equality Texas documented additional targeted events throughout the year, including an armed demonstration and confrontation in San Antonio, among more than 30 demonstrations against drag performances in the state alone. For more information go to UPDATED Report: Drag Events Faced More than 160 Protests and Significant Threats Since Early 2022 | GLAAD.
Since 2022, anti-LGBTQ book bans have proliferated in schools and communities throughout the United States. Moms for Liberty, an anti-LGBTQ extremist group that bills itself as a so-called “parental rights” organization, is a driving force behind this alarming trend targeting books about LGBTQ people, people of color, and race and racism. Increasingly, this group is using school board elections to advance its anti-LGBTQ agenda and to gain clout. Before reporting on Moms for Liberty and their efforts in elections, read GLAAD research on their anti-LGBTQ activism, and their record of policy and harmful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ people, youth and families, here. Additional connections between anti-LGBTQ book ban groups and school board candidates, here.
The majority of bills targeting LGBTQ people fail to advance or become law. Still, there is proven harm in having the bills discussed and a person’s humanity debated, including an increase in mental health distress among young people, per the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. For more information go to GLAAD Media Guide: State Legislation About LGBTQ People.
ADL’s Center on Extremism and GLAAD have documented more than 500 incidents of violence, harassment, and vandalism since June 2022.
GLAAD urges reporters and voters across the country to look closely at the equality records of candidates on the ballot at every level, from top state executives to school boards, and ask how their policies and statements will make LGBTQ citizens safer and more secure, protect their right to not be discriminated against, and promote liberty and opportunity.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
Tuesday was a rough night for Moms for Liberty. Of the 130-plus school board candidates…