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IT’S WAR: LGBTs Officially in Battle for Swing Dates

Written by Richard Hack

For all the talk about Hillary Clinton’s health and that of her staff this past week (she wasn’t the only one to contract pneumonia), there has been no slow-down on the campaign trail as the candidates push toward their first Presidential Debate on September 26.

If anything, the war of words has turned more turbulent, vitriolic and specific with the LGBT community finding itself on the front lines of this political battle, like it or not.

It was Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine who gave the first inkling this past weekend when delivering the keynote address at the 20th annual black-tie Human Rights Campaign Dinner by calling on LGBTs to “mobilize.” It was a direct call to arms aimed at insuring that the Clinton-Kaine ticket won the swing states—some of which are actually in Trump territory.

Florida is always considered an essential state for a national political win.  Four years ago, Obama won the state by less than one percent.  But a lot has happened in the Sunshine State in four years, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.7%, which is a little lower than the national average. What used to be a retirement mentality has switched to an upwardly mobile state that saw half a million Latinos move into Florida in the past four years.  Most of them are registered Democrats, with the minority now accounting for 25% of the electorate.

It was also the home to the largest massacre in recent America history with the Pulse Nightclub murders. In addition, Florida has 11 of the nation’s most dangerous cities. This becomes relevant on a number of levels as the Presidential contest moves into its final months.

Florida is a state whose northern borders are replete with religious zealots and radical conservatives who think violence is a likely outcome should Hillary Clinton be elected president.  They agree with Kentucky governor Matt Bevin, who also spoke last Saturday, to a very different audience.

While speaking at the annual Value Voters Summit in Washington DC, Bevin stated that should Clinton be elected president of the United States, the nation would recover but not without shedding blood. “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else. The patriots,” Bevin said, referencing a quote from Thomas Jefferson. “Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something that we through our apathy and indifference have given away.”

The Democrats were quick to dismiss Bevin’s comments. “I believe that his call to shed the blood of fellow Americans is unconstitutional and a violation of his sworn oath to uphold the laws of the commonwealth,” Democrat Nancy Jo Kemper said at a news conference just outside Bevin’s office in the state capitol. Kemper is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th District.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson called Kemper’s comments “a desperate act by a desperate candidate.”

Bevin is in his first term and is not on the ballot in November. But he is campaigning hard to help Republicans win a majority in Kentucky’s House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats.

He used his speech on Saturday to encourage Christian voters to not be silent on issues they care about.

“Look at the atrocity of abortion, so many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’ Now it’s this gender-bending, don’t ask, don’t be a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid,” Bevin said, referring to policies on gays in the military and other LGBT issues.

Clinton believes that her key to winning is through the direct mobilization of gays and lesbians who have a history of organizing political victories. Clinton believes that the LGBTs are essential to win Florida and the other swing states of Arizona (where they are at a virtual tie), Colorado (where Clinton is currently leading by 9.7%), Georgia (virtual tie), Iowa (virtual tie), Michigan (Clinton, 5.6% lead), Missouri (Trump leads by 3%), New Hampshire (Clinton by 5%), Nevada (tie), North Carolina (tie), Ohio (tie), Pennsylvania (Clinton by 6.2%) and Virginia (Clinton by 3.7%). It’s war. And it’s happening now.