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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Q Force initiative looks to 'save democracy' by getting out the vote
by Alec Karam

This article shared 10470 times since Mon Apr 1, 2024
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The Q Force Midwest Force Action Group initiative wants to save democracy-and they've hit the ground running to ensure President Biden wins reelection this November.

The initiative of LGBTQ+ organizers and volunteers seeks to invigorate voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, two of the nation's most pertinent swing states, ahead of the presidential election. Q Force will officially kick off its get out the vote mission April 13 at 2 p.m. at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St.

The event's goal is to teach people more about the initiative and enroll those interested in contributing and canvassing. The name is "tongue-in-cheek," co-chair Greg O'Neill shared, "but we're dead serious."

The group wants to push back amid an assault on rights for the country's marginalized communities and are imploring voters to vote for Democrats this November. The name—which is unrelated to the one-season Netflix series—is a punchy way to remind people "we're here, we're queer, we're here to save democracy," according to O'Neill, who wants the name to be inclusive of the community and play into a superhero motif.

Their launch event at Sidetrack, open to all, will be an energetic, music-filled event to get the local LGBTQ+ community engaged, with speakers from both Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, state Senator Sara Feigenholtz and more. It's meant to be "uplifting, but motivating," O'Neill said. There will be an additional event at the University of Chicago May 4.

"Getting out the vote has never been more important," fellow co-chair Mary Morten stressed. "We really have to make sure people understand that they have to vote like their life depends on it, because in fact, it does."

The initiative, described by Morten as "cross-generational, multi-racial," seeks LGBTQ+ volunteers wanting to support of Democratic candidates, both federally and locally. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is a lesbian, will be up for reelection, while the Wisconsin state legislature—long a Republican supermajority that Democrats maintain is not reflective of the state's population—could also flip to Democratic control. Democrats narrowly have majorities in the Michigan legislature.

Many Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed anti-LGBTQ legislation, particularly targeting trans people, in recent years, while also attacking diversity programs. Morten pointed to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's recent bill that prohibits funding of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs statewide, while requiring public institutions to designate bathrooms by gender. The state's house recently advanced legislation that would ban Pride flags from classrooms as well.

Alabama is one in a series of Republican-led states passing sweeping bills that are stripping the rights of LGBTQ+ people and people of color, and it represents the importance of voting for Democrats in local elections, organizers stressed.

"This is the party that has protected LGBTQ rights, and continues to [do so]," co-chair Jin-Soo Huh said.

Huh pointed to the off-cycle Supreme Court election in Wisconsin last year that led liberal justices to finally garner a majority, allowing for fair legislative maps in Wisconsin, which has historically been gerrymandered. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed into law new congressional maps in February, a major victory for Democrats in the state.

The initiative first launched in 2020, primarily focused in Benton Harbor, Michigan, with about 100 volunteers out on election day that year. This is the first full-fledged election cycle Q Force will be working, and their goal is to get 500 volunteers this time, O'Neill said.

"It's like 2020, but on steroids," he added.

Transportation will be provided for those looking to volunteer, while the initiative plans to reimburse individuals for gas money or other expenses to help ease the financial strain. The initiative is a way for people who want to "do something that's constructive" but don't have the means to donate to get involved and make a difference in the election, O'Neill explained. Alongside the ground engagement, the group will also have phone and text banks.

Organizers are working alongside state Democratic committees to figure out where to most effectively canvas. Q Force volunteers will primarily focus on Milwaukee County for Wisconsin, while Michigan volunteering will largely take place in Benton Harbor.

"We want to work in tandem with folks in their communities. We're not going in trying to take over," Morten said. "It's really important that we connect with people who are already in these communities doing work. So our role is really to support their on the ground work in terms of making sure people understand what's at stake."

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This article shared 10470 times since Mon Apr 1, 2024
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