Why Last Night's Debate Proves That LGBT Rights Are at Stake in This Election

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October 20, 2016

We heard a lot of things from both candidates during the debate last night.

But there is no debate about one thing:

LGBT rights are at stake in this election.

The next president will likely appoint several justices to the Supreme Court, altering the makeup of the bench for a generation to come. One of the candidates has repeatedly promised to name judges in the model of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented in our Lawrence v. Texas case, writing, “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home” and they view this as “protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Obviously that should trouble you.

Despite our recent Supreme Court victory that made marriage equally available to same-sex couples throughout the United States, numerous issues critically important to the LGBT community are likely to come before the Court again soon.

A jurist in the mold of Justice Scalia could threaten marriage equality, attack protections for transgender people and block access to health care for people with HIV.

We can’t afford to turn back now. What we need are justices who understand that the rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution apply equally to LGBT people and people living with HIV.

In addition to the empty seat on the Supreme Court, there are 99 vacancies on the federal bench across the country — and the next president will get to pick those judges. While we have made important strides, people of color and women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of the federal judiciary, and there is still only one openly LGBT judge on any federal appellate court.

So put aside all the rhetoric and the bombast. This election is too important.

Remember to vote on November 8. And remind all your friends and family to vote.

The rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV hang in the balance.