The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities have seen firsthand, in relentless flows of legislation passed to either blatantly harm us or to thwart or reverse our efforts to achieve basic equality, the damage that bad leaders in government can inflict. While we have made great strides over the last couple of years, we are still fighting for our lives. We are still pleading with our worlds - whether in the workplace, at home, at school, or on the street – to recognize not just our humanity but also our rights to stability, to safety, to access, and to equity. We are working every day to fill a void that unfilled is harm perpetuated, a wound inflamed and casualties multiplied. We continue to lack LGBTQ protections against hate crimes and against discrimination at work and in public spaces. We continue to see trans people murdered and attacked in our communities while our leaders feed irrational and dangerous fears of our communities, perpetuating the violence. We are still regularly facing the reality and the potential of an ever-increasing number of laws that allow our essential care providers and our local businesses to deny us services based on who we are or whom we love. We are winning with gusto in dramatic waves but also losing in devastating ways. It is important to note that we are not alone in this struggle for relevance in our own land. Our friends, family and neighbors who are people of color, immigrants, poor, HIV+, women, and many others are also hurting.

Voting is the first and most basic way we can continue to make progress, protect what gains we have achieved, and eventually stop the suffering. I asked some folks in the area why they vote and this year, like many years, Lansing citizens, LGBTQ or straight and cisgender, will vote because:

“A woman’s power is already restricted by her paycheck and diminished access to opportunity. Voting is one place where a woman’s influence isn’t cut to 77 percent of a man’s. A woman’s vote is her voice at 100%.” – Angela W.

“Elections have consequences. Always.” – Walt S.

“Because I care about the Supreme Court Justices, and that will affect the country for generations!” – Mike D.

“I vote in every election. My privilege as an American. A privilege people in other countries are willing to die for.” Catherine O.

“As an immigrant to this country voting is an important privilege. I vote because my voice counts.” – Micaela B.

“I believe in the reasoning behind the concept of a representative democratic republic, and my role to make it work.” – Byron H.

“I vote for those who can't (due to disenfranchisement) and those who couldn't.” – Sommer F.

“Because civic responsibility. And, more importantly, it is (supposed to be) the most equal(izing) right of all.” – Michael T.

“I'm voting because I owe it to my ancestors who fought so hard for Blacks to have the right to vote.” – Tenay T.

“I'm voting because I will not see my friends, neighbors, countrymen, and family devalued just for being who they are.” – John S.

“This is a country "of the people". That includes me, and I want my voice to be heard. We all have the same voice and it is our right and obligation to speak up so, hopefully those who lead us can use our opinions to shape how they lead.” – Kathie D. (My Mom.)

“I'm voting to protect basic human rights, especially for women, LGBT folks, and people of color. Nothing matters more than that, and unfortunately what gains we have made in freedom from oppression are threatened in the US right now.” – Apryl P.

“It's embarrassing as a teacher to explain to 5 and 6 year old students that there has never been a female president…From small local positions to the White House Presidency, each role in government works on legislation that affects my life.” — Ryan W.

At LAHR we ask that you vote for the sake of yourself and for each other. We encourage you to vote because who we are and whom we love shouldn’t be used to decide how equally we are allowed to live. We ask you to vote because our kids deserve safe and accepting places to learn and roofs that aren’t crumbling to study under. We hope that you’ll vote because Black Lives Matter. We implore you to vote for the world you want and need to see, and to vote in a way that reflects the best version of yourself and of your community. We plead with you to vote because you have only as much power as the voice you use and at stake, still, is our lives. We trust you’ll vote because you and the community we love are worthy of fairness, stability and elected officials that lead with compassion and empathy for the the strongest, weakest, and all those in between.

In solidarity and love,
Emily Dievendorf, Interim President Lansing Association for Human Rights (LAHR)
You can now follow LAHR on twitter and facebook (@LansHumanRights) to stay up to date on events and access valuable resources!