HRC spends $15M to blitz states for Biden

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President speaks during an interview with MSNBC.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Kelley Robinson has seen the latest polls which have President Joe Biden trailing former president Donald Trump and she’s not taking any chances on LGBTQ+ lives. Robinson, who last year issued a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. has announced that HRC is targeting the six key swing states—including Pennsylvania—to “rally equality voters.” But HRC warns that queer and trans votes may still need impetus to re-elect Biden.

HRC is the largest LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy group in the U. S. Under Robinson’s direction, HRC is launching a $15 million commitment to help Biden defeat Trump in the 2024 election.

The HRC campaign will target the six key battleground swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. The campaign to re-elect Biden will include paid ads, staff hires, field campaigns and events in those states, which are critical to both Biden’s re-election and to maintaining the Senate and regaining the House.

HRC estimates that this year there will be 75 million “equality voters” in the U.S., voters who consider support for LGBTQ+ rights critical to their choice of candidate. HRC puts that number up from 62 million in 2020 and 52 million in 2016. In 2020, Biden beat Trump with 81 million votes to Trump’s 74 million. Pennsylvania clinched the election for Biden. 

Trump previously said he will end a series of LGBTQ+ protections established by the Biden administration “on day one” of his presidency if he is re-elected in November. 

“We’re gonna end it on day one,” Trump said during an appearance on “Kayal and Company,” a conservative talk radio show in Philadelphia. 

Last week, the FBI and DHS issued a joint warning that terrorist organizations could target Pride month events. PGN also reported the disturbing news that more than one in 10 young people ages 13 to 24 who identify as LGBTQ+ attempted suicide in 2023

Yet despite this news highlighting just how much is at stake, HRC says one-third of “equality voters” are not ready to vote for Biden. HRC says that in these six swing states, hundreds of thousands are “at risk of not voting.” HRC says hundreds of thousands of other voters are what the group refers to as “double doubters”—people who will likely vote third party. In 2016, HRC’s Robinson said those uncertain voters could determine the election. Half of Kennedy’s supporters said they were voting for him, but nearly half said their support was mostly a vote against Biden or Trump.

“This group of voters, when you break them down by state, can actually make the difference. In a state like Arizona, where President Biden won it by about 10,000 votes, you got 1.4 million equality voters,” Robinson said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday. “This is a powerful constituency, a powerful community. It’s our job to make sure that they have the tools that they need to show out to the polls. So we’re going to be knocking on doors, making phone calls, engaging every member that we’ve got to make sure that our people turn out.”

Robinson said, “It’s not just about two candidates. It’s about two fundamentally different versions of our country that we could be looking at after November.” 

Biden is the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in history. He’s codified same-sex marriage nationwide and supported equality issues since his first day in office with an executive order. In announcing his re-election bid last year, Biden spoke out against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being pushed by the GOP. 

In contrast, Trump was the most anti-LGBTQ+ president in history and the Biden administration is still working to reverse all the anti-LGBTQ+ policies he put in place. Trump has also promoted the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash in the U.S. in the states and continually supports anti-LGBTQ+ candidates as he did in the last Senate and gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania. Trump’s appointment of three anti-LGBTQ+ justices has been devastating for LGBTQ+ rights. In June 2023, the court found that it was acceptable to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

Conservative backlash has caused a decline in support for LGBTQ+ rights. As PGN reported, a major survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that support for LGBTQ+ rights fell for the first time. Support is down for same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination policies, and up for permitting religious-based service refusals.

“This moment feels so important, not just for this election, but really what it means for the future of our community,” Robinson said. “We are seeing an incredible backlash in states across the country to the progress that we’ve made that’s led by an opposition that doesn’t want us to have the rights we have today.”

Robinson vowed that HRC will not appease the opponents of trans rights: “The same horrific things that they’re saying about trans people today, they said about lesbian and gay people 20 years ago.”

Among the “equality voters” it identified, HRC said 62% are younger than 40, 50% are nonwhite and 70% are women. The risks of these voters leaving Biden and not voting, or voting third party are “especially pronounced” with those voters, according to HRC. That statement tracks with recent surveys that show Biden struggling with young, Black and brown voters, a major reason Biden trails Trump in a head-to-head matchup in many national and swing-state polls.

HRC said an estimated 2,200 LGBTQ+ people turn 18 every day, which presents opportunities to register new voters. Gen Z voters in particular need to see more from the president, Robinson said. And as a recent Gallup survey shows, Gen Z voters are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than other age groups.

“I think what they’re looking for is engagement from the president, engagement from the administration and really engagement from every elected official,” Robinson said. “So I’m optimistic. But what we’re seeing around young people, we’re seeing Generation Z be engaged in a conversation about what it will take to make our nation better, and every candidate should be excited about that too. I think the task is — between now and Election Day — is to engage them to talk with them to bring them into the process.”

Robinson added that among down-ballot candidates, “some of them are young and dynamic and history-making — people like Sarah McBride in Delaware, who could be the first trans congresswoman.”

The HRC president said part of its effort will be to convince voters not to support third-party candidates, like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has said he favors same-sex marriage but criticized gender-affirming care for young people.

“We’ve got to make sure that people know very clearly that any vote that is not for Joe Biden is a vote for Donald Trump. Full stop and period,” she said, adding that Trump is “not someone that stands for any of our communities, and we are very clear about the threat that he presents, not only to equality but to democracy overall.”

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