We Owe Our 2016 Presidential Election Vote To Gay And Trans Youth

Ballot box with national flag on background series - LGBT flag
Ballot box with national flag on background series - LGBT flag

We all have a sacred obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 for one simple reason: only the Democratic nominee and her ticket have pledged to protect the rights of gay and transgender youth from discrimination. The Republican ticket has done the opposite.

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence confirmed that, if elected, they would rescind the Obama administration's federal guidelines protecting gay and transgender children from discrimination at the local level, effectively leaving them to the mercy of extremely gay-unfriendly states and schools.

The reality is that many local school boards, city councils, and even state legislatures in conservative states have significant anti-gay bias and have demonstrated no desire to protect their gay and transgender youth from being harassed and sometimes killed, or induced into killing themselves, which is the same thing.

So when I say "we" have a sacred obligation, I am referring most specifically to the out LGBT community, and more broadly to our allies and all those who believe in human rights and, most importantly, the rights of defenseless children to live lives free from harassment.

Every gay or transgender person, particularly those over age 25 who remember life before DOMA fell, know what it is like to feel alone. To feel unprotected at school, and in many cases at home, to have nowhere to turn. The transgender community, and LGBT communities of color, feel this most acutely -- but we all understand it.

What is truly sad is how many moneyed and educated LGBT individuals who once escaped from such lonely discrimination have forgotten that they themselves once escaped from it and now have an obligation to use their votes, their influence, and their money to protect those who come after.

Those who need them now. They must look in the mirror and say "I will not be Roy Cohen" and do something about it.

And what is just as sad are the people of my generation, the liberal millennials, who equate Clinton and Trump and openly admit they may not impede his election -- and the discrimination that comes with it. Enablement is no different from direct endorsement.

At our deepest, and most personal human levels, we must know and acknowledge that WE are the first and last line of defense for these youth, and only we have the capital and influence to protect them. And we only have that influence because we have helped elect a sympathetic democratic administration that has done more -- despite its weak platform on LGBT issues back in 2008 -- to protect the gay and transgender communities than any administration in history.

In an election that in its totality is more and more every day a race to the sordid gutter, we should hold to the knowledge that the Republican ticket has stated unequivocally that it will not protect our youth. If we, as LGBT Americans and our allies, give our vote to enable that discrimination, why should our youth ever forgive us when they come of age? And, why should we forgive ourselves?