Reflecting on the Fight for Equality in 2020

by Brandon Hooks

The past year was eventful, to say the least. From handling a worldwide pandemic to seeing the consequences of unchecked systemic racism to preparing for the most consequential election of our lifetimes, 2020 presented challenges that tested the resilience and strength of communities everywhere. As we reflect on the past year and look toward the future ahead, it’s important we acknowledge the adversity we faced and recognize the victories LGBTQ people everywhere achieved.

Record Endorsements Up and Down the Ballot

Every person deserves to see themselves and their identities reflected in public office, which is why we set out to endorse candidates reflective of communities across the country. HRC endorsed 650 candidates on the local, state and federal levels — the most in our organization’s history — to build a pro-equality pipeline dedicated to making a difference. This slate of candidates was also the most diverse to date, with 11.2% identifying as LGBTQ, 34.5% as people of color and 53.7% as women.

Grassroots Mobilization Like Never Before

COVID-19 may have changed the way we approached our election efforts, but it didn’t stop us from turning out in record numbers. All in all, we made a significant difference this election by mobilizing staff and volunteers nationwide.

  • 2,650+ volunteer events
  • 5,800 individual volunteers recruited
  • 28,500+ hours of person-to-person voter engagement
  • 200,000+ voters engaged with HRC’s voter dashboard at
  • 930,000+ phone conversations with voters
  • 2.5 million+ mail pieces
  • 2.7 million+ person-to-person text messages

History at the Highest Court in the Land

The passing of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg and subsequent stolen confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett was a blow to many, but we still celebrated crucial decisions by the Supreme Court in 2020. LGBTQ people everywhere rejoiced as the Supreme Court chose the right side of history in its landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which declared both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Attempts to overturn trans-inclusive school policies in Oregon and protections for the children of same-sex parents in Indiana weren’t even given a day in court, and anti-LGBTQ extremists were blocked from presenting their dangerous cases. The Court affirmed protections for DACA recipients, ensuring the nearly two million DREAMers across the country can continue to live in the place they’ve come to call home.

Changemaking Candidates Elected to Office

As election results rolled in the night of Nov. 3, it was clear that candidates from the local to federal level would make history and break barriers for so many. Here are just a few of the history makers elected in 2020:

  • Sarah McBride, former HRC press secretary, will become the nation’s highest ranking openly transgender state legislator after winning her state senate race in Delaware.
  • Ritchie Torres will become the first openly LGBTQ Afro-Latino member of Congress.
  • Michele Rayner will become the first openly LGBTQ Black woman in the Florida legislature.
  • Stephanie Beyers will become the first openly transgender person elected to the Kansas legislature.
  • Mauree Turner will become the first openly non-binary state legislator after winning their race in Oklahoma.
  • Capt. Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper won their U.S. Senate races in Arizona and Colorado, respectively, replacing anti-LGBTQ incumbents.

A New Path Forward in the White House

On Nov. 7, our country began the course toward a brighter, more equal future for all when Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election. He earned the most votes ever in a presidential election, delivering a decisive defeat to Trump and his time in office marked by hateful attacks against marginalized communities. Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, the first female, Black and AAPI vice president, joins Joe Biden on the most pro-equality presidential ticket in our history. With them in the White House, we will be able to expand and strengthen our rights: we’ll be able to advance the Equality Act, address the epidemic of violence against trans and non-binary people and ensure no person — regardless of who they are or whom they love — faces hate or discrimination in the U.S.

Now is the time to celebrate all we have achieved while remaining diligent in our fight for full equality. Unity won in 2020, and will continue to win for years to come.