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What's At Stake For LGBTQ Voters This Election?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The vast majority of LGBTQ voters are more motivated to vote this election than past elections. That is according to a poll out earlier this month by the LGBTQ organization GLAAD. NPR's Brianna Scott spoke to some of those voters this week.

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RICHARD GRENELL: I'm here to tell you Donald Trump is 100% with us.

BRIANNA SCOTT, BYLINE: That's Richard Grenell. This year, Trump named him as acting head of intelligence, making Grenell the first openly gay person to serve in a U.S. cabinet-level position. He spoke last week at a Trump Pride rally in Tampa, Fla.

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GRENELL: And I say, Mr. President, the gays love you.

(APPLAUSE)

SCOTT: That statement doesn't ring true for Alphonso David. He's president of the Human Rights Campaign.

ALPHONSO DAVID: Donald Trump is doing what Donald Trump does best, which is gaslighting people into believing that he supports them when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

SCOTT: David says many LGBTQ voters feel like this current administration has unjustly targeted them.

DAVID: And they know what is at risk if Donald Trump wins another election.

SCOTT: David points to Trump's ban on openly transgender people serving in the military as one of the most visible issues for the LGBTQ community this past term. And in 2019, the White House opposed the Equality Act, which would provide comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people inside and outside of the work force. And appointing conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court this week doesn't help.

DAVID: Her professional actions as a scholar and a jurist raised significant concerns about her ability to be impartial and fair when considering cases that will impact the LGBTQ community.

SCOTT: The HRC put out a report about what they say is troubling about Barrett's record, including instances of her defending the Supreme Court's dissenters on the 2015 marriage equality case and arguing that Title IX protections don't extend to transgender Americans. GLAAD's poll shows that more than 70% of LGBTQ voters favor Biden, while only 17% support Trump.

CHANCE MCCRAW: He's got a great record as far as, you know, just viewing human beings as human beings.

SCOTT: Chance McCraw is in that 17%. He lives in Virginia with his husband of six years. McCraw is worried about Joe Biden raising his taxes, and he doesn't think there's any pressing LGBTQ-specific issues right now.

MCCRAW: President Trump, I think, has shown that, you know, equality is equality. We're no longer fighting over gay marriage. And I think that means that people are more interested now in economic issues, and that's why they're coming to the Republican Party.

JUAN PORTER: For you, it's a financial argument. For me, it's a can-I-even-be-in-the-room argument.

SCOTT: That's Juan Porter from New York. You might have guessed it, but he doesn't agree with conservatives like McCraw who back Trump. That doesn't mean Porter is enthusiastic about voting for Biden and Harris. He's living with HIV, so his main concern this election season...

PORTER: I am focused on health care because it is a noose around many people's necks. If I did not have subsidized health care, I wouldn't be able to afford my medication, which is $3,000 a month.

SCOTT: Roughly 9 million LGBTQ people are registered to vote. Like many other voter blocs, the issues are wide-ranging. But just feeling safe - that's key.

ANDY SUN: To people who aren't in the affected community, it can be a debate or something that's an intellectual discussion. But to me, it's my life.

SCOTT: Andy Sun lives in Missouri. She says there's only one option this year because for the last four, transgender rights have been under attack. So she's heading to the polls next week to vote for Biden. Sun says regardless of who is in office, what she wants...

SUN: Is an administration who will listen, and that they will encourage more people in this country to run for office to represent everybody and not just some of the people.

SCOTT: Sun says if Biden is elected, she'll be holding him accountable for the promises he's made to the LGBTQ community.

Brianna Scott, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF KIASMOS' "SWAYED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.