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Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential election campaign has launched a new voter outreach effort to help drive LGBTQ people to the polls this November.
The ‘Out for Biden’ initiative will seek to reach out to and engage the estimated 11 million LGBTQ voters nationwide, with particular focus on those in key battleground states, such as Florida and Michigan, CBS News reports.
“Our campaign’s decision to launch Out for Biden in the shadow of historic protest elevates the power of the moment and encourages deep — and sometimes difficult — dialogue within our LGBTQ+ community as Pride month begins,” Reggie Greer, the Biden campaign’s LGBTQ Vote Director, said in a statement. “LGBTQ+ people of color are central to the fabric of our communities. We must elect a government that will center their voices and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”
The outreach program will initially be virtual, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, until in-person campaigning can resume.
In addition to virtual discussions, “tool kits” will be sent to voters containing information on voter registration and advice on talking to other people about becoming so-called equality voters — those voters who aren’t LGBTQ, but vote in favor of candidates and initiatives that support LGBTQ rights and equality.
The initiative will be led by a steering committee consisting of 32 LGBTQ politicians and allies, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly lesbian senator, and Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David.
LGBTQ leaders in specific states will also lead local outreach, including Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, the first black trans woman to be elected to public office.
In a statement, Baldwin said it was “critical that, in this moment, as we speak out against racial injustice, discrimination, and harassment, we don’t forget to do everything we can to empower people. LGBTQ voters could be the margin of victory in Wisconsin, and in key states across the country.”
HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights organization, estimates that there are 772,000 LGBTQ voters in Florida, 416,000 in Pennsylvania, and 311,000 in Michigan. All three states opted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, with a margin of victory in Michigan of just 10,704 votes.
Biden’s campaign will also target LGBTQ voters in potentially competitive states that opted for Trump in 2016, including Arizona and North Carolina.
“From the black trans woman in Milwaukee, to the Dreamer in south Texas to the pro-equality suburban woman in Bucks County Pennsylvania, the LGBTQ equality movement is ready to unite like never before,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “Our rights have long been on the ballot, compelling us to register to vote and participate in politics rather than let others speak for us and make decisions without us.”
David had previously called Biden the “leader our community and our country need at this moment,” after HRC formally endorsed Biden for president last month.
“His dedication to advancing LGBTQ equality, even when it was unpopular to do so, has pushed our country and our movement forward,” David said.
Biden this month successfully clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, after crossing the necessary 1,991 delegate threshold.
“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded,” Biden said in a statement. “I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.”
He also issued a statement recognizing June as the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride Month, and reiterated the “remarkable” progress that the LGBTQ community has made since the Stonewall riots and the first LGBTQ pride march.
Biden noted that “much work remains” before full equality can be achieved, and pledged to pass the Equality Act as president, as well as reverse the anti-LGBTQ actions of the Trump administration.
“We must send a clear message that hatred and bigotry have no place in America or on the world stage,” Biden said.
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