Op Ed: You must vote for Hillary

by Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News

You have no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton. Your very life depends on it.

This is LGBT History Month and we're also at the close of a very contentious presidential campaign, an interesting convergence.

It is often said that one thing we as a community learned from the AIDS epidemic was that we had to learn to organize since we were fighting for our lives. We have a new generation that does not know what that time was like, what that statement meant or how it shadows this election.

The LGBT community of the 1980s was one in sheer shock. Gay men were dying and no one seemed to care and some officials went so far as to suggest that we should quarantine gay men. Some religious people suggested that AIDS was a message from God. Those in the medical sciences were not sure what they should do. And why? Because leadership from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health did not feel that they should act quickly in a time of a major-health issue since they received silence from elected officials, namely President Ronald Reagan. Even Reagan's own Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, admitted years later that he felt guilt for the many lives that were lost. In times of crisis, a president can make all the difference.

What about today? We're still fighting AIDS and funds need to be spent to find a cure. Apart from the epidemic, LGBT lives are at stake in other areas.

Take, for example, Uganda. The country keeps attempting to pass legislation that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by the death penalty. What does it have to do with the election in our country? Donald Trump has been endorsed by the very evangelicals who support this legislation. To date, it was only the Obama administration that has kept this from becoming law. If Donald Trump was elected, do we want take the chance? We're not playing with the lives of our LGBT community.

And how about here in the United States? Trump's vice-presidential running mate believes in conversion therapy. Conversion therapy - and let's not mince words here - is the torture and imprisonment of LGBT youth. It's just the latest term of aversion therapy.

Still not enough?

When the Pulse Nightclub was the target of what looks like antigay terrorism. Trump at first would not mention the word "LGBT." Instead, he said he would not allow Muslims into our country. The fact that the man who did this was a Muslim was all he cared about - as well as making a few campaign points. He did not care about our lives. Trump, after being criticized by that comment said then he'd stop terrorists from coming into this country who might do that again. What about the antigay terrorists who are Americans and already in this country? Oh, he's standing on a stage with them, shaking their hands and accepting their endorsements.

Vote like your lives depend on it. They do.

Mark Segal is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, "And Then I Danced," is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.

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