Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ US election win is a terrible omen for LGBTQ+ Americans

Ron DeSantis with the White House inserted into the background

Ron DeSantis’ reelection as Florida governor is a concerning omen for queer Americans, as thoughts turn from midterms to the 2024 presidential election.

In the US midterm elections, DeSantis was reelected as governor with 59 per cent of the vote.

Conversely, though Republican politicians and commentators predicted a “red wave” in the midterms, this has failed to materialise. In particular, candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump have performed poorly.

As America speculates on who will throw their hat in the ring for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential elections, DeSantis’ success is worrying the queer community.

It seems certain that Trump will announce a 2024 run, and although DeSantis has cautiously avoided the question, he is widely seen as Trump’s most powerful rival.

Following the elections, DeSantis is in a better position than ever – in fact, Trump feels so threatened that he issued a warning to DeSantis on the day of the elections (8 November), saying he would reveal “things” about the Florida governor “that won’t be very flattering” should he run for president.

But threats from Trump are unlikely to be enough to stop DeSantis, and a DeSantis presidency would be a terrifying prospect for LGBTQ+ Americans.

As Florida governor, DeSantis’ most notorious anti-LGBTQ+ move was the passage of a Florida law that prevents the discussion LGBTQ+ topics in schools, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.

Last year, he signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, banning trans girls and women in the state from competing in sports competitions in middle-school, high-school girls and college.

In April, he signed the “Stop WOKE Act”, heavily restricting how workplaces, schools and colleges can teach about racism, homophobia and other systemic biases by banning anyone from discussing how people can be “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive”.

Editor and film critic Jon Negroni tweeted: “The real question is whether or not the guy’s politics translate to the rest of the country, and no one really knows that for sure, yet.

“But I think it’s obvious to anyone with a brain that he’s a stronger presidential candidate than that other guy… The stakes here are extremely high.

“A DeSantis presidency and republican congress in 2025 could bring about a rollback in rights for LGBTQ people that can’t be understated. We could be seeing federal bans on all gender affirming care, even for adults.”

The voting power of Gen Z gives Americans hope of taking down a Ron DeSantis presidential campaign

But as Gen Z reaches voting age, there is hope.

As Olivia Julianna, the queer director of politics and government affairs at Gen Z For Change put it in a tweet: “If it wasn’t for Gen Z, there would have been a red wave.

“The polling shows that OUR generation voted for Democrats more than any other age group. WE are the reason Democracy will stand.

“We now have a seat at the table. Time to start listening.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told PinkNews: “We believe that when elections are fair, all voters have an equal opportunity to participate, and candidate stances and issues are presented in a fair and honest way, people stand for equality and justice.

“Should Ron DeSantis consider a 2024 presidential bid, he will need to acknowledge that LGBTQ voters and younger voters – who increasingly identify as LGBTQ – have the power to swing an election and that they overwhelmingly support abortion access, LGBTQ rights, economic equality, and racial justice.

“Though results are still coming in, it appears that Americans by and large are rejecting the politics of the past and the politics of hate and division. Anyone looking forward to 2024 should take note.”