LGBTQ voters in Arizona outpace the national average and are projected to continue growing in strength as a key electorate through the next two decades, signaling an increasingly pro-equality outlook in a Republican-controlled state that just enacted several new anti-LGBTQ laws this year.

Currently, the proportion of eligible voters who identify as LGBTQ in Arizona is at 12.6%, higher than the national average of 11.3%, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. That gap is set to widen by 2040, with the share of LGBTQ voters in the Grand Canyon State estimated to grow to 19.4%, compared to 17.8% nationwide.

These estimates are indicators of the group’s rising power as a contender at the ballot box, advocates say.

“The LGBTQ+ voting bloc has been steadily growing and is on track to exponentially expand in the coming years, becoming one of the fastest growing voting constituencies in the country, wielding increasing influence in local, state, and federal elections,” Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said  in an emailed statement about the report.

In Arizona, that influence is sharply at odds with a GOP-led legislature that added to this year’s record number of anti-LGBTQ laws across the country. In March, Republican lawmakers approved laws barring transgender athletes from women and girls competitive school teams and prohibiting gender affirming surgery for trans minors.

The authors of the report acknowledged recent anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in politics, saying the continued increase of LGBTQ identification among voters warns that politicians who embrace such rhetoric do so to their detriment.

“Candidates running on anti-LGBTQ+ platforms and demonizing LGBTQ+ people to rile up extreme members of the conservative base are using an out-dated playbook,” wrote the report’s authors. “They are on the wrong side of history, and also ignorant of the demographic realities of the American electorate — which is already the most accepting of LGBTQ+ rights as it has ever been, and will only continue to be more queer, and more LGBTQ+ affirming in the coming years.”

Voter participation among members of the LGBTQ community is high. In 2020, Americans who identified as LGBTQ made up only 5.6% of the national population, but accounted for 7% of voters. Candidates who espouse pro-equality agendas are likelier to garner support from this electorate, as discrimination is top of mind for LGBTQ voters. According to the report, as much as 66% of LGBTQ respondents surveyed earlier this year by the Human Rights Campaign cited trans rights among their most important concerns when voting.

The increase in LGBTQ identification among voters is due, in large part, to younger generations reaching adulthood. An analysis of demographic data gathered from Household Pulse surveys conducted online from 2021 through 2022 by the U.S. Census Bureau to examine the impacts of COVID-19 found that 30.9% of Gen Z adults in Arizona — those born between 1997 and 2003 — identified as part of the LGBTQ community, compared to only 5.3% of Baby Boomer adults born between 1946 and 1964.

The report notes that voter support for pro-equality candidates isn’t isolated to voters in the LGBTQ community, but that younger generations overall, regardless of sexuality or gender identification, are likelier to turn away from anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Same-sex marriage and a broader gender spectrum is more enthusiastically supported among Gen Z and Millenial adults than Baby Boomers.

“Given that younger generations are more likely to be accepting of LGBTQ+ people and hold pro-equality views, it is clear that equality issues will play an essential role in future elections for years to come,” reads the report.