I am a “Values Voter” and Proud


Many of us in the United States (and around the world) have been watching the last week unfold with fear and sadness. It started with a purge of the White House website. While it is customary for each incoming administration to remake the site in their image, that’s no excuse for the fact that there is no message affirming support for LGBT rights on new administration’s version of whitehouse.gov. There was before, and now there isn’t.

The First Amendment Defense Act is a bill that would allow businesses, landlords, medical professionals, and employers to discriminate against LGBT folk on the basis of their religious beliefs. During the election, Trump voiced his strong support of this bill on his website. “If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.”

Texas is looking at its own bathroom bill and is trying to take away spousal benefits for same sex couples.

Trump has reinstated “The Mexico City policy” officially preventing US aid from being given to NGOs that provide or discuss abortions as a family planning option.

I know that this is not a complete list of changes concerning LGBT rights and gender equality. I expect that this list will only continue to grow. Watching this happen has been devastating for me and my friends.

There is, however, a group of people rejoicing at this news. These are the folks who proudly hold deeply conservative, anti-woman, anti-LGBT, and anti-sex beliefs and who want those beliefs to be legislated.

For some reason, we have allowed these people to discuss their bigotry in the most flattering language. They use phrases like “pro-life”, “pro-family”, and “values voter.”

If you look at the language around the First Amendment Defense Act and similarly bigoted legislation, the idea of “deeply held beliefs” always comes up. There is an idea that if a belief is held deeply enough, it must have more value than a fact or fairness or kindness. The people who hold these deeply held beliefs over other values like kindness and fairness are called “values voters.”

When we call these folks values voters, we are saying that we are not values voters. We are saying that our support of basic human rights is not a “value” or a “deeply held belief.” Yet when someone says they want to deny trans folks access to healthcare, we call that their “deeply held belief”or value.

I say f*ck that!  Bigots don’t have a monopoly on values.

I vote based on my values, too. I vote based on my deeply held belief that all people, regardless of religion, sex, age, gender, race, orientation, identity, or ability deserve the same basic human rights.

I will never vote for someone who attempts to take those rights away, not just from me, but from my friends, family, or even from those I haven’t met. I care that total strangers have the same rights that I do. I have a deeply, profoundly held belief that everyone should have a chance in this country and in the world. These are my values.

My values may not be based on a belief in an old dude in the sky. My values are based on the scientific concept that as humans we all have more in common with each other than we don’t. My values are based on my own ability to empathize with people who aren’t like me. My values are based on my recognition of my own privilege and my desire for others to share those privileges.

Yet even my friends on the left tend to value beliefs based on spiritualism over those based on science and experiences. Even the faithless have a respect for blind faith in others. They draw the line at endorsing political action based on that faith, but they still allow these folks to be “values voters.”

I am sick of calling certain bigoted beliefs “values.” Values has become a euphemism that allows people to avoid talking about how gross their beliefs are. They don’t have to explicitly say what those values are or explain their hate-fueled legislation. They can just say it’s values based on their faith and therefore unimpeachable.

I’m done ceding this ground. I refuse to use these kinds euphemisms anymore.

I am pro-life. I believe that everyone deserves access to decent healthcare. This includes the poor, people of color, the LGBT community, pregnant women, and everyone else. We all deserve decent medical care. Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world. Studies are linking this to insufficient medical care, including family planning services, especially among women of color. This is unacceptable.

Those who oppose abortion and other family planning services are not pro-life. They are anti-sex, anti-woman, and anti-choice.

I am pro-family. I believe that there is no one right way to be a family. If you are gay, straight, or bi; if you are non-monogamous; if you are childless; if you have adopted children; if you are a single parent; if you are a multi-generational family, you are still a family and deserve the same protections. I am pro-family.

Those who limit the idea of family are not pro-family, they are anti-love.

I am a values voter. I vote based on my values. My values inform my vote. There are certain value-based issues that are non-negotiable for me when it comes to voting. I will never vote for an anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-sex, anti-love candidate. I am proud of voting for these values and will continue to do so.

I am a values voter.

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Talia Squires
Talia Squires is Editor-in-chief of bi.org. Talia has a degree in German Literature from Bryn Mawr College and a Master's in Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She's obsessed with good food, fantastic wine, and trashy television. She lives in LA with her husband and fluffy Lhasa Apso.