All votes must be counted

As we all await the outcome of the 2020 national elections, we at SAGE urge patience and determination to count every vote.  Time and time again, our community’s history gives all of us the strength to continue with resilience and resistance.

To honor the will of the voters and respect our democracy, it is essential that every vote be counted.  Patience is especially important this year, given that the global pandemic – which disproportionately threatens older people and people of color in the United States – forced many Americans to cast their votes by mail.  These mail-in votes are the last to be counted in many states.

Even before the presidential election results are finalized, our community can celebrate significant progress in the election of so many openly LGBTQ candidates.  These newly-elected leaders stand on our elders’ shoulders, who paved the way for the progress we are making today.  Recognizing the extraordinary diversity of our communities, we are thrilled at the success of people of color and transgender candidates, including Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, respectively the first Black and Black-Latino openly LGBTQ people ever elected to the United States Congress; Vernetta Alston, who will be a strong voice for social justice in the North Carolina House of Representatives; Elias Diaz, the first LGBTQ elected official in Eagle Pass, Texas; Felix Rivera, one of the first openly LGBTQ people elected in Alaska; and Rosemary Ketchum, Sarah McBride, Taylor Small and Stephanie Byers, the first openly transgender people to be elected to state offices in West Virginia, Delaware, Vermont, and Kansas, respectively.  Representation in government matters and SAGE applauds this progress.

While we await the final presidential election results, the work of SAGE and our elders pushes forward.  Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which addresses the question of whether faith-based social service organizations that sign government contracts to perform government functions have a right to use their religion as a license to discriminate against LGBT people.  Because LGBT elders rely so heavily on religious agencies for elder care, SAGE plays an essential role in the Fulton case by filing an amicus brief with 25 organizations serving older people and people with disabilities. Read our issue brief here.

Just this week, SAGE joined seven other plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal, in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s recent Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society.  SAGE will not back down, and we must counteract discrimination in essential services.

Whether it is the national elections, LGBT representation in state and local governments, or critical battles at the Supreme Court, our LGBT elders have paved the way for us with their resilience and their determined resistance.  LGBT older people live in every part of every state in this country, and like all Americans, they deserve to have their votes counted. Today we join with our elders in declaring that We Refuse to Be Invisible.