Thanksgiving 2022 – Grateful, by reservation – Shepherd Express

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Despite its now questionable origins, today when we are surrounded by so much negativity, the holiday’s indomitable spirit reminds us to give thanks and be thankful for the positive things in our lives. We usually express gratitude for our friends and family (biological or logical), our health, and our happiness. This year, however, most LGBTQs express our gratitude for the results of the midterm elections, which preserved some semblance of democracy and our rights, at least for the moment. I am grateful for that too, but with reservations.

In their wisdom, a very narrow majority of Wisconsin voters reelected Gov. Tony Evers. His election-night victory speech made it clear why: the state’s voters prefer boring democracy and human rights to stridently anti-LGBTQ, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, anti-environmental and anti-immigrant Christian-white nationalism. They sent Carpetbagger and Trumpnik Tim Michels packing to enjoy the penthouse views from his $9 million Big Apple condo and the Yankee charm of his $17 million Connecticut home.

They also blocked the GOP’s expected veto-proof supermajority in the Wisconsin state legislature. Here, too, reason triumphed over hatred and betrayal. Had Republicans been successful, in addition to being able to change Wisconsin laws at will, the majority-rigged Legislature would have reinstated the anti-trans and other laws vetoed by Gov. Evers in his first term check and say goodbye. Given the sad state of democracy in Wisconsin, we should be especially grateful for that.

In a stunning race for the state legislature, Democrat Jessica Katzenmeyer, a trans woman, ran against Republican incumbent Rob Hutton. Though unsuccessful, Katzenmeyer received nearly 43,000 votes, or 46.7% of the votes cast. Unfortunately, Lt. gov. Mandela Barnes launched his run for the US Senate against incumbent Republican and alleged January 6 co-conspirator Ron Johnson. However, Democrats have maintained their Senate majority, squashing Johnson’s larger ambitions.

Better late than never

But while I give thanks for the electorate upholding the status quo and preserving democracy for now, it just about got there.

To be fair, better late than never, the Wisconsin Democratic Party has targeted the LGBTQ community to participate in the vote. Some TV spots even mentioned Tim Michel’s homophobia. Drag Out the Vote events were hosted by the Art Bar in Riverwest and La Cage. (Apparently, however, at least one bar was not approached because of its owner’s well-known far-right leanings.) This was well known by the bar’s patrons, who went to the polls early and en masse.

There were also a few GOTV Zoom events, one of which I attended. It took place just before Halloween when both the gubernatorial and senate races went neck and neck. In their pitch to potential attendees, organizers suggested attendees wear “funny hats” or “spooky costumes.” Perhaps they thought turning a GOTV event into a farce, rather than addressing the gravity of what is seen as the most consequential election of their lives, would produce enthusiastic voters. Not surprisingly, this was not the case. Of the 20 spectators, almost half hosted the event, taking turns preaching to the choir. After 40 minutes it was over.

Suffice it to say that local GOTV efforts have failed. It was reported that 36,000 fewer voters cast their ballots in Milwaukee compared to 2018. Mandela Barnes lost his run for the US Senate by 26,449 votes and Jessica Katzenmeyer lost her race for the State Senate by 6,066 votes. Do the math as they say. Still, thanks to voters elsewhere in the country, the US Senate still has a Democratic majority and Johnson’s larger ambitions have been thwarted. Thankfully, Dane County’s turnout was 80% of the registered electorate, likely leading to Evers’ re-election.

I am also grateful that the Respect for Marriage Act recently advanced in the US Senate by a vote of 62 to 37. The law was introduced in July by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and 12 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, including Mark Pocan (D-WI), to protect the Marriage rights, especially for same-sex and mixed-race couples. Predictably, Sen. Ron Johnson voted against.

Meanwhile, on Transgender Remembrance Day in Colorado Springs, CO, a 22-year-old MAGA-inspired terrorist opened fire at Club Q, a popular LGBTQ locale, killing five and injuring at least 25. Well-wishers overcame the gunman and prevented more carnage. I’m sure, like those who celebrated the assassination attempt on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there are many gleeful fanatics content with this latest display of their hateful handwork.

So, yes, I’m thankful for those who voted to preserve our fragile democracy and thwart the anticipated “Red Wave.” I just wish more people would do it.



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