For over a decade, we’ve seen attempts to make it harder, not easier, for people to vote in North Carolina. Using methods like diluting Black voting strength through gerrymandering congressional maps in 2011, and enacting one of the nation’s toughest voter identification rules in 2013, to limit access to voting. The impact on the LGBTQ+ community has been severe, particularly for those who identify as Black and People of Color. As a result, you see the power of the LGBTQ+ voting bloc growing.
Earlier this month, Politico reported that LGBTQ voters were “poised to become one of the fastest-growing blocs in the country.” This news was based on research conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Bowling Green State University and based on U.S. Census Bureau data. The research is entitled “Equality Electorate: The Projected Growth of the LGBTQ+ Voting Bloc In Coming Years.” This research suggests that by 2030, approximately 1:7 voters will be LGBTQ and by 2040, that ratio will be 1:5.
It is estimated that 9.8%, of the more than 7.35 million registered voters in this state, identify as LGBTQ+. Now, we see that the power of the LGBTQ+ is getting even stronger because of the issues at stake during elections. Voting rights have always been important because of the power it wields to those elected. Their decisions determine policy changes to systems that impact our daily lives – how our children are educated, whether we can be fired from our job for wearing our hair in locs or bantu knots, whether our doctors can perform certain reproductive services, etc. Whether you realize it or not, your vote matters.
And if you identify as LGBTQ+ your vote is especially important because of the anti-LGBTQ legislation that is consistently harming our community. This year alone, we’ve seen several legislative bills introduced that are harmful to our community:
- SB514 Youth Health Protection Act – this bill seeks to limit medical treatments for transgender people under 21
- SB515 Health Care Heroes Conscience Protection Act– this bill allows medical practitioners, health care institutions, and health care providers to discriminate based on their religious, moral, or ethical beliefs or principals
- HB358 Save Women’s Sports Act – seeks to prevent transgender youth playing in sports
- HB755 Parents’ Bill of Rights – this bill prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the curriculum in K-3 classrooms and it also contains a provision that educators must give prior notice to the parent of any student seeking to change the name or pronouns that they use at school.
Many LGBTQ people already face discrimination, prejudice, harassment, family rejection, and bias. Imagine the trauma to the youth associated with these bills if enacted into law, and how it could impact their mental wellness growing into adulthood. For those intersecting with racial and socioeconomic identities, facing violence and stigma derived from anti-LGBTQ legislation, this exacerbates the discrimination they are forced to endure. The LGTBQ voting bloc is not a monolith. The issues that impact our communities are diverse and complex, to say the least.
In May of this year, Politco leaked a draft of the highly anticipated Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This opinion reviewed landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, which most legal professionals thought was pretty well-settled into the law for the past 50 years. Nearly two months later, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling, overturning Roe v. Wade and removing a fundamental reproductive right for millions of people. The leaked draft was shocking, but might have helped “lessen the blow” since we were “warned” the previous month of its demise. But what really stung was Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion – putting us on notice that LGBTQ rights are going to be targeted next and making those in the LGBTQ+ Community feel even more at-risk.
Justice Thomas wrote “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” This has cautioned many individuals to call into question whether the right of same-sex marriages under Obergefell will be overturned next. If the court no longer were to consider marriage as a constitutional right under the 14th amendment’s substantive due process clause, then it will be left to the states to provide protections for its LGBTQ citizens.
This is why your vote is critical to the Midterm 2022 Election. Voting for candidates that best align with your values is key to gaining more inclusive laws and protections within our state. In fact, the future of North Carolina state law depends on it.
The 2022 midterms are shaping up to be a critical turning point in the continued fight for full equality nationwide. The United States Senate race, for example, is one of the most highly watched races in the country because of where the candidates stand on the issues described in this article. In less than two weeks, the fate of our lived equality will be decided through North Carolina General Election.
Bottomline, vote. The battle for basic civil human rights are at stake.
Crystal M. Richardson (she/her) is a North Carolina estate planning and administration attorney at The Law Office of Crystal M. Richardson PLLC. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Political Science. She is also a graduate of the Charlotte School of Law, where she graduated with pro bono honors. Attorney Richardson was licensed in 2013, and is currently a member in good standing with the North Carolina State Bar. Attorney Richardson is also an active member on the Estate Planning and Fiduciary Committee and the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee with the North Carolina Bar Association. She’s the C4 Board Chair for Equality North Carolina, the Education Chair with the Pauli Murray LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and a prominent advocate for passage of the CROWN Act. For more information, please visit her website at www.CrystalRichardsonLaw.com