The end of Obama’s presidency leaves the LGBTQ community at a crossroads. While it remains to be seen whether the next president will rollback protections and civil rights for our community, the track record of the Republican party and Donald Trump’s recent Cabinet appointments do not give me confidence.
The president-elect, and many of the people he is surrounding himself with, have shown apathy and even contempt for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and immigrants. The radically conservative agenda they are proposing unfairly targets so many communities that have struggled to achieve equality. As an LGBTQ elected official and a proud member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, I am on the frontline of the battle to save the eight years of hard-won progress that is now in danger – and I will embrace that role.
The LGBTQ community intersects with all other communities, spanning every demographic group. We are all genders, races and members of every religious community. We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, levels of education and hold different systems of belief.
When our community is under attack, everyone is under attack. This is why it is important we begin to operate in unison with a shared mission and vision to fight anti-equality efforts.
Together, we must fight to make sure employers cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — in Wisconsin or anywhere in our country. I am incredibly proud that Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to protect people based on sexual orientation, yet 34 years after that landmark bill was signed, we have yet to protect transgender people from being fired from their jobs or denied service at a grocery store, simply because of who they are.
This injustice extends to the majority of states in our nation, and the absence of a federal law makes the LGBTQ community incredibly vulnerable. This is just one of many equality issues we expected to address in Congress next year, but now seems in peril given the election results.
There is still progress that needs to be made, and we cannot allow the momentum we gained over the past eight years to falter.
It is now more apparent than ever that LGBTQ representation in elected positions at every level of government matters. With this election, we now have 500 out and proud elected officials in the country. The support of allies is invaluable, but it cannot replace the understanding of a lived experience — knowing what it’s like to be denied relationship recognition or being targeted for violence because you are holding your partner’s hand. LGBTQ elected officials understand the gravity of these issues, so in this post-election uncertainty, we are coming together to use our collective power to effectively oppose efforts to target the rights of the LGBTQ community or any other community.
The fight won’t be easy — but know that as your Congress member, I will be an outspoken and relentless voice for equality regardless of who is in the White House, and I will do everything I can to protect our progress in the coming months and years.
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan represents Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District