LGBT Advocacy Groups Stand With Civil Rights Counterparts in Disappointment at Voting Rights Ruling

June 25, 2013

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.

We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

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Tea Party Group Targets Trans Voters

November 4, 2012

A right-wing, Tea Party organization called “True the Vote” is training their volunteer poll watchers to target transgender voters. True the Vote’s training manual features a transphobic image that claims transgender people are fraudulent voters and should be denied the right to vote.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “It is disgraceful that True the Vote would try to thug anyone into not voting. True the Vote’s true agenda is a shameful attempt to scare trans people away from participating in our democracy.”

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Voter ID Laws and Trans People: Share Your Story

March 13, 2012

Photo by Liz West

Almost 20 state legislatures have passed, what we believe, are illegal laws restricting your right to vote. Because transgender people face disproportionate rates of unemployment and homelessness, they may experience barriers to meeting residency and identification requirements written into these laws. For these reasons, we fear that trans people may be inadvertently disenfranchised.

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Transgender People Likely Disenfranchised by Voter ID Laws, Research Suggests

September 27, 2011

via CampusProgress.org.

It’s no secret that some of the most common burdens in the daily lives of transgender people are identification documents. Gender markers (either explicit or inferred from photos or names) on everything from driver’s licenses to birth certificates to Social Security ID’s create constant difficulties—from bureaucratic headaches to legitimate safety concerns—for both transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Now, with the passage of “Voter ID” laws in several states, we can add the basic democratic right to vote to the list of activities that force transgender people to confront substantial institutional, personal, and psychological barriers to something crucial that many others take for granted.

First, some context: Over the past year, Republican legislators have launched themselves into a panic over “voter fraud” and have posited the need for stricter identification requirements when people vote.

But anyone who puts the slightest trust in (or even considers) empirical data about voting knows that voter fraud is an incredibly rare occurrence. By incredibly rare, we’re talking less than a thousandth of a percent rare.

Read the full article here.


Speak out: Register and Vote.

September 14, 2010

Vote

Steph White, "I voted"

NCTE's Managing Director, Steph White, went and voted today. How about you?

Exercising your rights at the ballot box is one way to make your voice heard! But in almost all states, you must be registered to vote. September is National Voter Registration Month. If you aren’t registered, or if you need to update your name, address or other information, now is the time to do it so you can vote in the November elections. Here are a couple of places to get started:

  • Vote411.org, a project of the League of Women Voters; you can register to vote, find polling places and get information about elections in your state, www.Vote411.org; they have links to registration forms in English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese;
  • canIVote.org, a website run by state election officials, which has information about registration, what ID you need, how to become a poll worker, etc., www.canivote.org;
  • National Council of La Raza’s ya es hora ¡VE Y VOTA!: http://veyvota.yaeshora.info

We have also released an updated version of our resource on Overcoming Voting Obstacles for Transgender People,  which provides information about what to do to

overcome common barriers to voting that transgender people face, such as changing your name on voting records. It also includes information about addressing issues like racism, how to get voter registration forms in various languages, and rights for those who are students, homeless, disabled or have a felony conviction.


Looking to the past, looking to the future

March 8, 2010

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day when about 600 non-violent civil rights marchers left to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. They had just gone a few blocks when Alabama state troopers launched tear gas at the crowds, attacked the marchers with billy clubs, and charged them on horseback, thus driving them back  to Selma. Two days later, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march as far as the bridge where the beatings and violence had taken place. Finally, on March 21, about 3,200 people set out again on the 54-mile journey to Montgomery, this time with federal protection to prevent the violence they had encountered before. By the time they reached Montgomery four days later, their numbers had grown to more than 25,000 people.

The march took place after years of work for voter registration and for integration. Those who advocated for their rights faced beatings, shootings and other violence that had gone on for years. Even thought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had passed, those civil rights had not been realized. One of the impacts of Bloody Sunday and the other marches was that it changed the emotional tone of America’s response to the civil rights movement. American’s eyes were opened in a new way to the ugly brutality of the police and the humanity of the marchers. In the months that followed, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other important gains were made.

One of the people beaten badly on Bloody Sunday was John Lewis, now a member of Congress representing Georgia’s 5th district, and someone who has dedicated his life to fighting all forms of discrimination. He is one of ENDA’s cosponsors. He had been involved in the voting rights activism that led to the Selma to Montgomery march in the early 60s, organizing people to go to the courthouse to register to vote.  Yesterday, as part of the commemorations, Congressman Lewis led a group back over the bridge over the Alabama River where he had been attacked by state troopers many years ago.

Thinking back to the events of the Selma to Montgomery march remind us that change–genuine, lasting changes to end discrimination–take time, sacrifice and ongoing dedication. The racism that led to the beatings and violence has not ended yet, although the country has seen remarkable changes and gains to American civil rights. The advances of the civil rights movement have improved our country in ways beyond measure, moving us closer to the ideal of democracy that Americans cherish.

Securing basic rights for transgender Americans–including the job protections in ENDA–has taken many years and will continue to call upon us to take action as work to pass this bill. On the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, it is an opportunity to commit ourselves to ending discrimination in all its forms, against our community and all others.


Congress Investigates Potential Voter Suppression

March 14, 2008

For those of you who have been following voting rights issues, check out the Leadership Council on Civil Rights (LCCR) March 11th article about Congressional investigation into voting suppression. The article is “Congress Probes Justice Department Efforts to Curb Voter Suppression“.

Given what happened in Florida during the 2000 election and in Ohio in 2004 (among other places), access to voting is a pertinent issue in the lead up to the 2008 presidential election. With the identity document issues that transgender people can face, it is easy for transpeople to become caught up in voter suppression efforts targeted at racial minorities and immigrants.

If you like would like to know more about voter suppression in general, see Wikipedia’s entry for a quick primer.

And f you haven’t already, check out NCTE’s handout, “Overcoming Voter Obstacles” for tips on how transgender people can deal with voting issues.

John Otto


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