“Our community is thrilled to say, ‘No more,’ once and for all tonight. ”
Eva Kendrick, Alabama director for the Human Rights Campaign, echoed the thought on many minds as Alabama voters rejected anti-LGBTQ senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday. Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Moore, who faces multiple allegations of sexual assault against teens and was twice removed from the state’s Supreme Court.
“Pro-equality voters are a force to be reckoned with,” an exuberant Kendrick tells INTO. “When they wake up tomorrow, the message will be, ‘Our voices matter.’”
From longtime activists to young students, LGBTQ Alabamians expressed exuberance and relief as news outlets across the country called the race for Jones.
Matt Mefford, a doctoral student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, watched the results come in while studying.
“I tried to tell myself before the election that either way, I was going to take a positive from it,” he says. “I can’t believe this. I feel great. I’m extremely proud of the voters of Alabama today. I think this was an extremely nice statement to make.”
In more conservative Dothan, Alabama, Ambrosia Starling watched the returns at a PFLAG Christmas party. Starling was well-acquainted with Moore. After Moore was suspended from the Supreme Court, he blamed the “professed transvestite” for speaking out against him. Starling actually identifies as a drag queen.
Starling and friends watched nervously Tuesday as the numbers came in, comparing results. With 80 percent of the vote counted, Jones was down.
“I spent two years talking about how good the people of Alabama really are,” she says. But in recent weeks, her faith was waning. And now, it looked like Moore might win.
And then things turned. She and friends scrambled to confirmed the results on their phones.
“I thanked the host for the best miracle Christmas party I have ever been to in my entire life,” Starling says.
In Montgomery, Alabama, Miss Harvey McDaniel was settling in for the night with the flu, still waiting on news of the results. A trans woman, McDaniel was set on proving to Moore that trans people had rights, and she had fought hard, speaking out against him at rallies and protests with her wife, Meta Ellis.
“We really hate that Roy Moore had put Alabama in such a bad light and made us the laughing stock of the nation,” McDaniel says. “That’s not who we are at all.”
Hearing the results, McDaniel says, she felt vindicated as a trans person. She could assert her rights. And she added, she was proud of Republican voters who rejected Moore.
According to Kendrick, LGBTQ people put more than 540 hours into Jones’s campaign. She is already looking to 2018, where she says swing states look good for pro-LGBTQ candidates.
McDaniel and Ellis are still enjoying their win.
“We’ve been working to get Moore out,” Ellis says. “This would be his third office, and we figure if this didn’t work out, he’d probably run for governor.”
“It’s almost a part-time job,” Harvey adds, laughing.
Photo via HRC Twitter