Human Rights Campaign Celebrates Election Night Victories as Voters in Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky Kick ‘MAGA’ to the Curb, Rejecting Threats to Civil Rights and Freedom

by Cullen Peele

As All Eyes Turn to 2024, Voters in Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky Reject Extreme Politicians Infringing on Our Freedoms and Privacy

WASHINGTON — Anti-equality forces across the country faced a rude awakening tonight, as voters in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky rejected the influence of far-right extremism and embraced pro-equality and pro-freedom policies and candidates. Many far-right candidates touting a transphobic MAGA platform in competitive races were defeated in Virginia’s state legislative elections, ensuring a pro-equality majority in the Senate — safeguarding the rights of LGBTQ+ Virginians and repudiating Governor Glenn Youngkin’s extremist agenda. Reproductive freedom also prevailed in Ohio, where voters successfully passed Issue 1, codifying abortion rights into the state’s constitution and once again rejecting the opposition’s quest to demonize transgender youth.

Anti-LGBTQ+ attacks proved to be fruitless in Kentucky as well with Governor Andy Beshear’s reelection to a second term, a loss for his radical opponent who demonized transgender people on the campaign trail and in his paid advertising.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson issued the following statement:

“One year out from an election that will determine the future of LGBTQ+ equality in the U.S. for years to come, MAGA Republicans have once again failed in their quest to use our existence to divide Americans. Tonight’s victories in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky send a clear message: extremism may win attention, but equality wins elections. Voters have once again made clear that politicians hellbent on stripping away our freedoms and basic civil rights will fail. Equality won at the ballot box.”

Last month, HRC launched a six-figure ad campaign warning Virginia voters of the threats facing equality and LGBTQ+ rights in their state ahead of this year's elections, in addition to endorsing 21 pro-equality candidates. While the House of Delegates remains too close to call, tonight’s Senate victory comes as a major win for the preservation of the Virginia Values Act, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, people of color, people of faith, immigrants, women and more, in addition to the protection of abortion rights which Governor Youngkin has repeatedly expressed interest in gutting.

HRC also mobilized our Ohio membership to the polls in support of Issue 1, which enshrines abortion rights in the state constitution. Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ people, like most Americans, depend on abortion access, reproductive health, and family planning protections that are under threat. The data shows that LGBTQ+ women who have been pregnant are more likely to have had unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than heterosexual women and are more likely to need abortion services as well. Furthermore, their pregnancies are more likely to be the result of violence.

Since 2016, HRC has worked to mobilize Equality Voters, a voting bloc made up of self-identified LGBTQ+ individuals and their friends, family, and allies, numbering 62 million nationwide. Equality Voters are a demographically and geographically diverse voting bloc united by the advancement of LGBTQ+ equality. They are more likely to be women, more racially diverse, and younger than the general electorate.

Roundup of Public Opinion on LGBTQ+ Rights:

  • According to new polling from The 19th and SurveyMonkey, the vast majority of Americans — 7 in 10 — think that politicians are not informed enough about abortion and gender-affirming care to create fair policies. In addition, Two national surveys this year report that a majority of Americans oppose bans on gender-affirming care (NPR/Marist on 3/20-23, 2023 and Grinnell College National Survey on 3/14-19, 2023).

  • Americans believe the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is excessive, agreeing it is “Political Theater.” Polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters, including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think that there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America.”

  • A majority of Americans disapprove of banning LGBTQ+ content in schools – and seem prepared to punish candidates who do so. More than six in 10 Americans say they would be less likely to back a candidate who “supports policies that ban books in schools and in school libraries on subject matter that deals with sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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