Human Rights Campaign president says 2024 election is crucial for members of LGBTQ+ community

Kelley Robinson says there are proposed bills that are anti-LGBTQ.

June 10, 2024, 2:25 PM

Last year, for the first time, the Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people. The organization's president, Kelley Robinson, sat down with ABC News to discuss the specific bans being proposed that can effect the LGBTQ community.

Robinson says she has spoken with pediatricians who have received death threats and also mentioned that teachers and drag queens are encountering threats of violence, such as being met with AR-15 rifles when they go to work.

Robinson, however, said things started to turn around this year when "bad bills" targeting the LGBTQ community did not pass. She says this upcoming election is crucial because legislation is being proposed that could affect the future of the LGBTQ community.

VIDEO: The status of the fight for LGBTQ rights
VIDEO: The status of the fight for LGBTQ rights

ABC NEWS: The movement to show up for the LGBTQ+ community, especially ahead of the presidential election. And so we're joined by Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. Kelley, thanks for being here with us. I want to get right into some new research that the Human Rights Campaign has published that puts some hard numbers behind trends in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Tell us what you're seeing in that data.

ROBINSON: Look, the state of the LGBTQ+ community, it's strong and it's resilient. So last year we, for the first time in the organization's history, declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people.

Now, I got to be clear that many people are experiencing a lot of harm. I talked to pediatricians who are receiving death threats. I talked to teachers and drag queens [who] are being met with AR-15s when they go to work. This is real and it's serious. But what I'm also seeing is that the tides are beginning to turn. This year, still we saw a record level of introduction of bad bills, but nearly none of them made it across the finish line.

A state like Georgia wasn't able to pass a single bad bill attacking our community into law. That didn't happen by accident. That happened because we showed up. We showed up powerfully, and we made it clear that we weren't going to accept attacks on any members of our community, not now and not ever.

ABC NEWS: With some of those pieces of legislation not making it cross the finish line, as you mentioned, what does that tell you for the future, in case other pieces of similar legislation are brought to the fold?

ROBINSON: You know, it tells me that there's hope here. You know, as hard as the world is right now, I want folks, especially my community, to be clear that we are not without hope.

And we are certainly not without power. These things aren't happening because we're weak. They're happening because we're strong. Look, across the country, we've identified 75 million voters that prioritize LGBTQ+ issues when deciding who to vote for. 75 million! That's equivalent to the number of people in every battleground state combined. This is huge.

Our job is to make sure that those people know what's at stake, and have the tools and resources to turn out to the polls, because when we show up, when all of us show up, equality wins every single time.

ABC NEWS: In broad strokes, what should people know about what's in the legislation and some of the legislation across the country? What is at stake here?

ROBINSON: Look, they're attacking every part of our community. I mean, I see bans on access to health care, drag bans, book bans, trying to make its way across the country, bathroom ban, something we haven't seen at this volume since, you know, the 2010s.

But the other threat is really happening federally. We've got to be clear that when you look at the presidential election, this isn't just a race between two candidates. This is a race between two fundamentally versions of this country. Let's be clear. Donald Trump installed a conservative Supreme Court that not only overturned Roe v Wade, but said the quiet parts out loud.

The next, the court should revisit is Obergefell and Lawrence cases that fundamentally protect our rights in this country. In this moment, we have to be clear that the progress of the last 40 years of progress, of last 50 years, it's fragile and it's all on the line. So this election could not be more important if you care about the LGBTQ+ community, if you're a member of our community, because this election is the election that will determine our futures.

ABC NEWS: And, Kelley, you touched on it for a minute. I want to go back. You said that the Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency last year for LGBTQ+ people in the United States. What impact did you want to make with a move like that?

ROBINSON: We wanted to elevate the crisis. You know, so many bills are moving across the country. It's easy to believe that this is only happening in a state or two, or to feel isolated in your experience. But what we're actually seeing is a coordinated attack from our opposition.

There are forces out there like the Alliance Defending Freedom, like the American Principles Project, who are saying the quiet parts out loud, that they are attacking our community because they're trying to use us as a political wedge. We cannot let that happen. We have to see them clearly for what they are and respond in kind. We have to build a movement that doesn't just protect our rights today, but advances equality moving forward.

ABC NEWS: So with that said, how are you trying to reach voters on these issues, particularly voters who have not supported the gender expansive community, maybe, in the past?

ROBINSON: Look, we're at a unique moment. There is so much opportunity in front of us. Look, right now, Generation Z, a third of them identify as members of the community, a third. What that means is, every single day there are 2,200 Americans who identify as LGBTQ that are turning 18 years old.

That also means that there are more allies than ever before, as these folks feel empowered and safe to come out as a as fully who they are. So in this moment, we have to be clear that this is a time where we don't have to settle. We don't have to pretend that we are small. We have to embrace our power. And anyone that's feeling scared or feeling anxious right now. The antidote to that anger is taking action.

There are things that you can do to talk to people in your community, to tell your story, to give resources to organizations like ours or candidates that you care about because it does make, make a difference and it will matter.

ABC NEWS: Kelley Robinson, thank you so much for joining us.