Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday November 14th, 2018


The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the only national human rights organization working full time to protect the fundamental human right to sexual freedom. Our work includes fighting sexual violence, eliminating discrimination based on gender or sexual identity or family form, and protecting the right to engage in consensual sexual activity and expression. We do this through advocacy, education, and coalition building.  

Every other Wednesday, our bi-weekly newsletter aggregates seven articles central to Woodhull's mission and work.

In light of last week's Midterm elections we're dedicating the newsletter to victories across the country, covering the following topics:

  • The 'Rainbow Wave' sweeping the nation;
  • What the passage of Florida's Amendment 4 means for the future of voting rights;
  • The record-breaking number of women elected to office;
  • Massachusetts' successful campaign to protect transgender rights;
  • The Texas county that elected 17 black women as judges;
  • Six years after her son was killed, Lucy McBath heads to DC;
  • ​Sharice Davids' historic win for indigenous and queer women in Congress.

Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette, via Associated Press

In 'Rainbow Wave,' L.G.B.T. Candidates Are Elected in Record Numbers (New York Times)

2018's midterm elections marked a record-breaking year for LGBTQ political candidates in the United States. 225 Victory Fund-backed candidates appeared on ballots across the country at every level of government, with 159 winning seats. In addition to sheer numbers of victories, the election of Sharice Davids, a lesbian indigenous woman, in Kansas, and Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor marked historic advances in swing states. Christina Caron of The New York Times reported, "L.G.B.T. candidates ran for office in record numbers this year. 'Success breeds success,' said Annise Parker, the president and chief executive of the Victory Fund and former mayor of Houston. 'We're not going out and pleading with people to run,' she added. 'These are people who say, 'I want to go out and do this and bring my whole self to the campaign.'" Read more. (To see a more in depth analysis and map of LGBTQ victories, click here.)


Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Florida voters approve Amendment 4 on restoring felons' voting rights (The Marshall Project)

Last Tuesday, more than 60% of Florida voters elected to pass Amendment 4 granting voting rights to many of Florida's 1.4 million residents with prior felony convictions. According to 2016 data from The Sentencing Project, it's estimated that 1 in 5 black people are disenfranchised in Florida, with about 40% of  black men restricted from voting. With the passage of Amendment 4, reports indicate that the newly enfranchised population has the power to swing elections to the left. Jennifer Rae Taylor argues, "But we miss the point and sell ourselves short to interpret felony disenfranchisement reform as purely partisan. Florida voters certainly didn't see it that way, as Amendment 4 was projected to pass with more than 60 percent of the vote long before the close statewide races could be called. And whatever we try to extrapolate from the race, age, class, or geographic backgrounds of those enfranchised by the new law, they all share one key characteristic not found on a census form: Each and every one has experienced criminal conviction and imprisonment. They have withstood the challenges of re-entry and discrimination and may be struggling through them still. And now, the power to vote brings with it the power to help remake one of the most powerful and complex forms of state control: criminal justice." Read more.


(Associated Press)

How many women won? (LA Times)

In a record-breaking election, 123 women were elected to Congressional and Gubernatorial seats across the nation on November 6th. Colleen Shalby and Andrea Roberson of The LA Times reports, "With votes still trickling in, 101 women have been elected to the U.S. House, 13 women to the U.S. Senate and 9 women will serve as governor...Prior to this year's election, there were 107 women in Congress – 84 in the House, out of 435 members, and 23 in the Senate, out of 100. Six women were serving as governors, out of 50." For a full breakdown of demographics, positions, and analysis, read more here.


Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

The Campaign to Preserve Massachusetts' Trans Protections Was Successful Because It Centered Trans People (Slate)

Last Tuesday, 68% of Massachusetts voters elected to uphold a state law protecting against discrimination based on gender-identity. The opposition's campaign to overturn the 2016 protections relied on spreading misinformation about trans people and the hysteria surrounding the "bathroom predator myth." However, by centering trans voices and experiences, champions of the bill personalized their campaign. In an article for Slate, Alex Barasch argued that, "...The "Yes on 3" approach—engaging with these misconceptions head-on and carefully, kindly dismantling them, with an emphasis on the humanity of all involved—has it finally been dispelled. It's a surprisingly heartening lesson for a political moment in which the most vulnerable are actively demonized or simply erased entirely. In Massachusetts, at least, a combination of hard facts and human connections won out over fearful rhetoric. For marginalized communities elsewhere in the country, the hope now is that the strategy will scale." Read more.


Courtesy of Harris County Democratic Party

17 black women elected as judges in one Texas county make history (CNN)

Harris County, the largest county in Texas, made history in the 2018 midterms electing 17 black women to judicial seats. Under a campaign they coined as "Black Girl Magic Texas" the 17 women include first openly LGBTQ African-American judge in the county. Veronica Stracqualursi write's that, upon reflecting on her win,  "Latosha Lewis Payne, judge-elect for the 55th Civil Judicial District, told a local Houston TV station that having a diverse bench would provide 'equal opportunity for justice -- regardless of who you are...I think that having an African-American judge or having a female judge, those are the kinds of things we bring to the bench, and we bring an understanding of a person who may come from that similar background,' Payne said." Read more.


Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

6 years ago her son was murdered. Now Lucy McBath is heading to Congress. (Vox)

Known as a "Mother of the Movement," gun control advocate Lucy McBath has defeated NRA-backed Karen Handel in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. First-time candidate McBath ran an incredibly personal campaign centering on her son's death due to gun violence. Her personal-is-political approach led her to victory, just a year after Democrats lost the same district in a special election. As P.R. Lockhart of Vox reports, "A congressional run wasn't always in the cards for McBath; in 2017 she first mounted a campaign for Georgia's state house. But after the February 2018 Parkland school shooting, McBath switched her focus to Congress, saying that national attention and activism following the shooting showed that America was finally ready for a serious conversation about gun control. 'I've spent all this time championing for gun violence prevention; I've been helping to build this big organic movement for gun violence prevention,' she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month. 'But if we do not get people in on the inside, it is going to be much, much harder to change the culture and it will take much, much longer.'" Read more.


Photo by Danielle Robinson

Sharice Davids' Win In Kansas Is A Huge Victory For This Main Reason (Elite Daily)

On November 6th Sharice Davids became one of the first two indigenous women elected to Congress. In addition, Davids is also the first openly LGBTQ representative from Kansas, one of the only queer women in congress, and defeated her better-funded Republican opponent. As Hannah Golden argues in her article for Elite Daily,  "It's hard to overstate the significance of Davids' victory. Not only did she accomplish the impossible by ousting a Republican incumbent, Kevin Yoder, in a state that went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016, and as a first-time candidate to boot — she also did all this as an openly LGBTQ Native American woman in what's been labeled one of the most conservative states in the country in recent years. A member of the Ho-Chunk nation, Davids now joins New Mexico's new representative Deb Haaland in becoming the first two Native American women elected to the House. She's also the first LGBTQ representative from her state, as well as one of the only LGBTQ women in the House." Read more.


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