LGBT activists launch ad blitz in swing states in bid to rescue knife-edge Presidential election

The largest LGBT rights group in America has launched ads in four key swing states, as new polling shows the Presidential election hangs on a knife-edge.

Though Hillary Clinton has held a lead for months, an ABC News poll this week showed Donald Trump pulling in front ahead of next week’s vote, as other polling confirmed a narrowing gap between the two candidates.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBT rights group, is backing Hillary Clinton, citing her key commitments to LGBT rights reforms and the regressive Republican platform.

Trump recently confirmed he would sign the First Amendment Defence Act, which bans the government from taking “any action against a person… on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage” – effectively banning anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people.

In a bid to attract support from evangelicals, Trump also confirmed he would “consider” appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices to repeal equal marriage, and came out in favour of North Carolina’s anti-trans law, while his conservative running mate Mike Pence has vowed to dismantle Barack Obama’s workplace protections for LGBT people.

Ahead of the election, HRC this week launched an ad blitz in four key states, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, in support of Clinton and pro-LGBT lower-ticket candidates.

In the ads, Clinton says: “We’re going to have an election that is truly going to be about fundamental rights: marriage equality, taking on the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community. We are going to make LGBT rights a campaign issue.”

The ads launched in North Carolina hone in on the battle over the state’s anti-trans law, with Senate candidate Deborah Ross talking about her record of standing up for equal rights and protections for LGBT people, fighting to repeal HB2 and citing provisions which prevent local communities from passing LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances.

In a second ad, North Carolina couple Lennie and Pearl, who have been together for 50 years and pioneered the equal marriage fight in the state, back Democrat Roy Cooper’s bid for the Governorship, in a bid to topple anti-LGBT figurehead Pat McCrory.

The ads in Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania also feature lower-ticket candidates making pledges on LGBT equality.

HRC recently withdrew its endorsement of one of the few Republican Senators who support LGBT rights, after he made racist comments about his opponent.

After Illinois Senator Mark Kirk mocked the Thai heritage of Democratic rival Tammy Duckworth, HRC said: “Following a vote by our board’s committee, the Human Rights Campaign withdrew our support of Senator Kirk.

“Attacking someone because of her race and ethnicity is inexcusable for anyone, but especially for a sitting U.S. Senator. The diversity of our movement is our greatest strength, and Senator Kirk’s remarks were an affront to our most fundamental values.

“We have therefore voted to endorse Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives, and HRC will contribute the maximum amount to her campaign. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to secure full federal equality for all LGBTQ Americans.”