A Year of Crucial Elections

by | Mar 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Despite having no chance of being signed into law by Governor Evers, Wisconsin Republican representatives and senators have spent time and money to draw up and pass legislation targeting trans minors in sports and health care, and trans adults who are incarcerated. While these bills were defeated, they are a harbinger of what trans and non-binary Wisconsinites will have to face should the state either elect a Republican governor or hand them a super-majority in the legislature.

Additionally, our state lags behind regarding to reproductive rights, and legalized marijuana, despite both having documented majority support. New legislative maps, a topic of contention for many years, have finally been approved, with the hope that they will make those representing Wisconsinites actually more representative of who we are and what we want from our legislators. This is an important year politically—both for the country and for Wisconsin—and it’s important to know what lies ahead so we can work to defeat those who use the Wisconsin LGBTQ+ community as a tool to garner support and money from their base.

Philip Gorman in Rock County 

Rock County will vote for Board Supervisors on April 2, and Mike Zoril, an incumbent, will face Philip Gorman, a gay man who is married to State Senator Mark Spreitzer of Beloit. Zoril has wasted no time in attacking Gorman for his sexuality, coining the term “Gorman the Groomer,” using a right-wing tactic to elicit fear and prejudice among his base.

In a personal Facebook post, Zoril continued his attack, stating, “My opponent (“Gorman the Groomer”), married to a sitting state senator, came to a county board meeting to talk about how he was lucky to be gay and lobbied the board to vote in favor of gay pride month—but he said it was not for him—it’s for the kids. I’m not making that up.” He follows that up with the plea, “Help me defeat this radical child groomer with your most generous donation.” According to the Gazette Xtra, these remarks were referencing an appearance by Gorman in June of 2023 at a county board meeting that went on to pass a gay pride resolution.

In response, Gorman stated that he “spoke in favor of a pride resolution as (a) gay married man. I’ve been working for LGBTQ+ rights since 2006, and I stand by my comments to the Rock County Board that LGBTQ+ kids in our community deserve to know that they are not alone and that life gets better.”

Zoril has a track record of using the right’s obsession with human trafficking to weaponize resolutions, with complaints and critiques of the bill’s message and wording being met by the board member with accusations of supporting or even conducting human trafficking. Gorman, who the Gazette Xtra states has “never been charged with any sex crime involving children or adults,” accused Zoril of using his homophobia to raise campaign money and rile up his base.

In response, Zoril has doubled down, telling a Gazette reporter that “bringing up one’s own sexuality in a board meeting and pushing for pride month for kids should not be an issue the board deals with, but Gorman made it an issue when he decided to involve Rock County’s children, including five of my own. He should be ashamed of himself.”

Senator Tammy Baldwin 

On a national level, Tammy Baldwin, Democratic U.S. Senator, the first woman that Wisconsin sent to Congress and the first openly gay non-incumbent in Congress, is facing a conservative opponent this fall, in a race that will help decide control of the Senate.

Eric Hovde, an ultra-rich real estate mogul, announced his campaign on February 20 after months of speculation about whether he would do so. Tammy Baldwin, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, was instrumental in codifying marriage equality in response to the Dobbs decision and the subsequent speculation that a repeal of Obergefell was next.

The Associate Press stated, “other Republicans are considering challenging Hovde for the nomination. Scott Mayer, a Franklin businessman, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, are also considering Senate runs,” signifying what might be a contentious primary for the Republican Senate nominee.

The AP continues in praise of Baldwin over her potential opponent, stating, “Baldwin most recently won reelection by 11 points in a race that was seen as a model for how to run as a Democrat statewide in Wisconsin. She is a tireless campaigner, garnered broad support, including among independents and voters outside of Democratic strongholds in Madison and Milwaukee, and she raised millions of dollars to fuel the successful bid.”

Two Races of Many 

These are two important races, but all of them, from the city school boards, to the county boards, to the Wisconsin legislature, and all the way up to the U.S. Senate, are crucial to keeping the wolf (who in this case is the Republican party and their hateful rhetoric and bills) at bay.

While it is true that the outcome of the Presidential election this November is very important, it is not paramount to the other, smaller elections coming up. We owe it to the queer kids in this state, as well as the adult LGBTQ community, to show up, be educated about who is on our ballot, and vote. It’s true that it often feels like an individual vote is inconsequential, but in the little local elections, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and these elections have potentially dire consequences.

School boards all around the state and country are voting on book bans, whether students can keep their preferred names and genders private from their families, bathroom rights for trans and non-binary kids, and the firing of teachers that openly support queer students. County board members also have a lot of sway over people’s everyday lives, and can make a county either a welcoming or a hostile place for our community. Pay attention this year; we have a lot to lose.

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