As Candace Bond of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has written, “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest.” For LGBTQ+ people, voting is absolutely crucial in the ongoing struggle to ensure the civil rights of every person in the United States, including every LGBTQ+ person.
Welcoming and including LGBTQ+ members in faith communities means that the members of your congregation will want to inform themselves about the positions of political candidates on the rights of LGBTQ+ persons and their families. One cannot claim to be an ally of queer people while voting for political candidates who do not support the civil rights of all people, including LGBTQ+ people.
And so, living out welcome and inclusion entails exercising our individual right to vote in elections at all levels of government: local, state, and federal.
Rev. Traci Blackmon, the Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO, explains why she feels voting is so important:
There are many ways to motivate people to exercise their right to vote, either by mailing in their ballot (if an option in their state), dropping off their ballot in person at an official ballot drop box, or by heading to the polls in person. Check with your denomination to see if they offer specific resources for you. Here is a sample of some helpful ones:
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: Every Voice, Every Vote “is the Reform Jewish Movement’s 2020 civic engagement campaign, a nonpartisan effort to strengthen our democracy by encouraging everyone to participate in the U.S. election and ensuring that Reform Jewish values are represented in the public square.”
- National Council of Jewish Women: Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote 2020 Campaign (PTV 2020) “provides NCJW advocates the tools they need to make a meaningful difference in the 2020 election from beginning to end, including resources to hold voter registration, voter education, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events, as well as provide sections with a leadership development opportunity via a PTV 2020 captain cohort.”
- United Church of Christ: Our Faith Our Vote 2020 Tooklit is a toolkit of resources for congregations, including worship ideas, theology, and practical tips.’
- US Council of Catholic Bishops: its Voter Registration and Voter Education website contains “ideas and suggestions… designed to help parishes promote civic responsibility by offering non-partisan voter education rooted in the values of the Scriptures and Catholic teaching.”
- Unitarian Universalist Association: UU the Vote is a resource guide that includes information on Voter Registration and Mobilization;
Values-Based Issue Conversations; Election Protection: Countering Voter Suppression; Open Door Congregations; and Spiritual Sustenance and Movement Chaplaincy.
- Human Rights Campaign: a national LGBTQ advocacy group, has a webpage, HRC Voting Center, where you can check voter registration status, register, get election reminders, find your polling place.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: Voting While Trans, has information specifically to empower transgender voters.
- Rock the Vote: offers a variety of Programs & Resources geared primarily for younger voters.
- NAACP voter registration info, includes how to register, different state laws, what to do if you face obstruction at the voting booth.
- Unidos US Voting [Voto en español] offers many resources and ideas about voting for Latinx people.
- Asian and Pacific Islander Vote website has information about voting in multiple languages and resources for API voters.
- Native Vote offers organizing resources for Native Americans, including voter registration drives, get out the vote campaigns and guidance for non-profits.
For this 2020 US Presidential Election we need to vote as if our lives (and the lives of those we love) depend on it — because they do!