Metro Weekly

HRC’s Chad Griffin to lawmakers: “If you come for us, we’ll come for you on Election Day”

HRC President, fresh off victory in Anchorage, says lawmakers pursue anti-LGBTQ legislation at their own peril

Chad Griffin

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin is putting local and federal lawmakers across the country on notice: If you push anti-LGBTQ legislation, be prepared for a backlash.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Griffin celebrates the recent victory in Anchorage, Alaska, in which voters rejected a ballot measure that would have barred transgender individuals from using public facilities that match their gender identity.

Noting that the ballot box has often been a battleground for LGBTQ rights, Griffin says that the victory in Anchorage “shows how far we’ve come.”

“In defeating this despicable measure, voters sent a clear message to the rest of the country that discrimination has no home in Anchorage, in Alaska, or anywhere in America,” Griffin wrote.

HRC had worked with the Fair Anchorage campaign and several other local and national LGBTQ advocacy organizations in defeating the ballot measure.

But Griffin noted that the victory in defeating the anti-transgender measure in Anchorage has nationwide ramifications. 

“This victory has consequences beyond Alaska’s borders,” writes Griffin. “Anchorage joins a growing list of cities and states that have shut down extremists at the ballot box. The city has delivered yet another high-profile rejection of the vile anti-transgender attacks that our opponents have resorted to all across America.”

Griffin notes that North Carolina experienced a similar backlash when it attempted to pass HB 2, a bill that sought to repeal local LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances, and force transgender members to use only those public facilities that matched their assigned sex at birth.

Once the law passed, it generated so much negative publicity for the state that many sporting events, conventions, concerts, and other potentially revenue-generating events were cancelled or moved to other locations in protest.

Liberal states and cities protested by instituting bans on government-funded travel to North Carolina. There are indications that the bill may have hurt Gov. Pat McCrory in his re-election bid.

And, even though some of the most problematic parts of the law stayed in place when the legislature passed a so-called “repeal” of HB 2, the bloodletting likely would have continued without legislation to rehab North Carolina’s image.

Similarly, anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee caused some conventions that had planned to meet in Nashville to pull out, denying the city and state at least $301,000 in direct spending from convention-goers.

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen how these attacks fail when informed voters see through the smears. Anti-trans attacks didn’t work in North Carolina — just ask Pat McCrory, the first North Carolina governor to lose re-election in more than 150 years,” writes Griffin. “They didn’t work in Virginia — ask Bob Marshall, who lost his seat to trailblazing transgender state legislator Danica Roem last November. And now, these attacks have failed in Anchorage, too.”

Griffin acknowledges that LGBTQ advocates still have a difficult fight on their hands. This fall, there is a ballot initiative in Massachusetts that attempts to strip away statewide protections for transgender people in public accommodations. A “bathroom bill”-type measure, similar to the one that failed in Anchorage, may also appear on the Montana ballot this fall.

“We have to continue to lift up the voices of transgender advocates and their families to inoculate voters against the lies our opponents spread. We have to organize and mobilize. We have to build coalitions and stand together. If we do that, we can win,” he says. “And as we continue to prove — from North Carolina, to Virginia, to Alaska — if you come for us, we will come for you on Election Day.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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