152 Elected Officials Urge Incoming Congress to Prioritize LGBTI Rights
152 elected officials in the US have signed an open letter urging the incoming Congress to prioritize a series of LGBTI rights initiatives.
The list of priorities include protections of trans constituents, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, focussing on HIV/AIDS treatments, and supporting asylum claims from LGBTI people who face persecution in their home nations.
The letter lists its signatories as including ‘Members of Congress, Governors, State Legislators, Mayors, City Councilmembers and School Board Members’.
The officials wrote the letter last week at a conference which was hosted by the Victory Institute, an organization which focusses on the training and support of LGBTI candidates.
The letter will be sent to the 116th Congress at a later date, The Hill reports.
In a statement, president and CEO of the Victory Institute, Annise Parker, said that the letter was a further indication of greater LGBTI representation and influence on US politics.
‘LGBTQ political power is growing thanks to the rainbow wave of LGBTQ people who won elected office in November — and this letter is the first sign of us wielding that new power,’ said Parker, who is also the mayor of Houston.
‘The current U.S. Congress failed to advance equality policies and legislation that most Americans support: non-discrimination protections, addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis, protecting trans people from abusive policies, and being a moral voice on the global stage.
‘The next Congress can remedy these wrongs and LGBTQ elected officials are determined to add their voice and energize their constituents around these important measures,’ she added.
The letter condemns the Trump administration for proposing ‘anti-trans’ policies, such as bans on trans people serving in the military, and the revocation of Obama-era federal guidelines which allow trans students to use public toilets aligning with their gender identity.
The calls for supporting asylum claims also come during a time the White House has faced severe criticism from LGBTI rights groups for its attempts to block asylum seekers from entering the US.
The midterm elections from November saw an unprecedented number of LGBTI candidates being elected to official positions throughout the US.
Though the elections failed to produce the ‘blue wave’ many Democrats had hoped for, many analysists said that America had experienced a ‘rainbow wave’ during the midterms.
Of the 432 openly LGBTI candidates to run, 240 (or 56.5%) won their elections.
This included Kyrsten Sinema, who will be the first openly bisexual senator in US history. Sinema was also the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate by voters Arizona since 1988.
Jared Polis also made history by becoming the first openly gay man elected as a state governor. Democratic candidate Polis won Colorado’s gubernatorial race by claiming 52% of the vote.