Voters faced the prospect of a man coming to power who compared LGBT rights to Nazism and claimed that homosexual conduct should be illegal. And Roy Moore’s anti-LGBTQ views weren’t limited to words – he actively worked against the community throughout his judicial career (he twice served as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court). In the months leading up to Tuesday’s Senate special election in Alabama, Republican candidate Roy Moore cemented himself as one of the most virulently anti-LGBTQ candidates in U.S. history.
So it’s no surprise that queer people geared up for the special election and played a crucial role in helping Democrat Doug Jones sweep to victory.
Representatives from both organizations told HuffPost that 60,000 Alabamians identify as LGBTQ – a minority with enough voting power to swing the race in Jones’ direction (in the preliminary final vote, he led by about 20,700 votes).
“Because HRC already has an established presence in Alabama and thousands of supporters, that led HRC to making an early endorsement in this race and pour tremendous financial resources and staff time into his campaign,” Ben Needham, who heads the group’s push to expand LGBTQ equality in the South, told HuffPost.
On the ground in Alabama, HRC efforts included door-to-door and phone canvassing across Alabama to ensure LGBTQ voters would turn out on Election Day.
Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd (D), who identifies as a lesbian, said: “I think [Jones’ victory] proves that even in a conservative place like Alabama, that when there is an existential threat to LGBTQ people we will fight back and we will organize ― we will get boots on the ground and we will go out and defeat people like [Moore]. A lot of people have been like, ‘Well, where does the LGBTQ movement go post-marriage equality?’ And I think it’s preventing these people from ever getting into office again – these people that believe we aren’t human and we don’t have rights.”
“It’s just incredible to finally win one,” she said. “It can get kind of lonely down here … and I think the LGBTQ community turned out in droves…”