March is Women’s History Month, and this year, HRC is honoring LGBTQ women and allies leading the fight for equality in city halls, state capitols and the U.S. Congress, on the campaign trail, on the road to the ballot box, and in every aspect of our democracy. Women’s leadership is more important than ever in our fight to move equality forward and achieve gender justice for marginalized communities across the U.S. and around the world.
Thanks to LGBTQ women and allies in office, our community has seen historic progress in recent years. Last fall, after our largest-ever field, digital and direct mail program in Virginia, HRC helped re-elect committed public servant and champion of equality Del. Danica Roem, and we helped elect pro-equality majorities to both chambers of legislature for the first time in the commonwealth’s history.
And under the leadership of Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, both chambers have advanced landmark LGBTQ rights legislation. The Virginia Values Act will grant non-discrimination protections to Virginians on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and several other characteristics. Virginia also took a step — over 50 years in the making — by ratifying the ERA and affirming the importance of equality under the law.
The leadership of women in office has also driven critical progress on the national stage. Last year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that passing the Equality Act was one of her priorities as leader of a pro-equality U.S. House, and under her leadership, our community achieved a major milestone for equality. This victory would not have been possible without the outspoken advocacy and allyship of congressional champions of equality like Sharice Davids, Pramila Jayapal, Stephanie Murphy and others.
And in the pivotal election ahead, we have trailblazers and history-makers running who are ready to lead their constituents and communities forward. Already in this cycle, we have endorsed HRC’s own Sarah McBride who, if elected, will become the first openly transgender person to serve in a state senate, as well as Congress’ first openly lesbian parent Angie Craig. Other incredible candidates endorsed this cycle so far include Lucy McBath, Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur and Joyce Beatty.
And while women leaders are using the power of the vote to build critical change, activists and advocates across the country are making sure that all voters are able to access the ballot box, and that all of our votes are counted. Ahead of the pivotal upcoming 2020 election, HRC and Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight are partnering to help combat voter suppression.
100 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, a critical but critically incomplete victory for equality at the ballot box, we know that there remains much work to be done to ensure that all of our votes and voices are being counted.
And with all the progress we have seen, there remains a great deal of work ahead to achieve full gender equality -- including one that does not tie identity solely to the male-female binary.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we also must acknowledge that sexism and misogyny are still far too pervasive in our institutions of daily life. We also pause to remember the victims of fatal anti-transgender violence, the majority of whom are Black transgender women. The epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender women of color must cease, and we must as an organization, a movement and a country do more to protect and empower transgender and non-binary people. That includes uplifting and supporting the work of transgender and non-binary advocates who have been at the forefront of this fight for decades.
This Women’s History Month, we celebrate women’s leadership in the LGBTQ movement and across movements, while also recognizing the great distance we have to go to achieve full equality for women, non-binary folks and all marginalized communities.