Today is the last day you can donate to candidates before the election if you don't want your money going to pay off campaign debts. There are a few candidates this cycle who are heroes for the gay rights movement and I wanted to make a last push to rally this community's support for them. We've got everything from Senate to Governor races here, so pick a couple and send them some of your money!
First up is Patrick Murphy. He represents PA-08. This guy has been one of our best advocates on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He initially wrote and almost passed the Military Readiness Enhancement Act - a bill to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell with a nondiscrimination policy. We were almost there, thanks almost singlehandedly to Murphy, but the administration and the military rejected that bill. A new one has now passed the House and is awaiting passage in the Senate.
Murphy has been such a strong ally that he's gained support among a bunch of unlikely people. Everyone on every side of the LGBT movement, from the Human Rights Campaign to GetEqual, wants to make sure Murphy gets re-elected. If you only knew how difficult it was to herd the gay movement in any specific direction, you'd see how big that development is. We can't ever agree on anything, but we all agree that Congress would suck more without Murphy there.
Next is Alexi Giannoulias, a Senate candidate in Illinois. He faces a challenge against the "moderate" Mark Kirk, who recently voted against repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Kirk had a reputation in Illinois for not being completely anti-gay, but his DADT vote and his opposition to marriage equality belies his reputation on our issues.
Giannoulias fully supports repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and would vote for it in the Senate. He also supports transgender-inclusive ENDA and immigration reform that includes the Uniting American Families Act, to help LGBT families stay together. Most importantly, he supports marriage for gays and lesbians. Giannoulias went so far as to announce his support for our marriage rights during the campaign.
In Illinois, there's a very real possibility that, at the very least, civil unions could be enacted by next year. In fact, if Quinn wins the election, he says that he would not even stand in the way of full marriage for gays and lesbians, if that's what Illinois voters want. Having a strong marriage supporter representing Illinois in the Senate would help both nationally and in his home state. Giannoulias appears to be a strong ally, and it's time for us to have his back.
Moving on to governors races, we have Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii. Recently, Hawaii's current governor Linda Lingle, who is term limited, vetoed a civil unions bill she said was too similar to marriage for gays and lesbians. Abercrombie supported the civil unions bill and would have signed it. If it comes up again next year, he would do so. Hawaii, I should note, is also an interesting state because their anti-gay marriage amendment left the decision up to the legislature, rather than banning marriage outright. It is certainly possible to get a marriage bill passed if the legislature decides to run with it, and we as activists work to pressure potential Governor Abercrombie to sign it.
Hawaii has long been a battleground state for gay rights and it would be a huge victory to see the state recognize civil unions or marriage within a couple years.
No list of candidates who are strong LGBT allies would be complete without Kirsten Gillibrand. What could I say that hasn't already been said? She's been strongly supportive of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. By which I mean, she's been an advocate on this - not just someone who has said she will vote for it. She's worked as hard as anyone to get repeal done and to do the work of convincing the Senate - who seems to be stuck in another century.
She also supports marriage for gays and lesbians, a position that puts her to the left of the last person to hold her seat - former Senator Clinton. (Though, of course, it's now a more politically favorable issue than when Clinton held the seat.) It's important that now both New York Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, support marriage. Given that the marriage bill could come up again next year, and state congresspeople are openly touting their support for it, it's good to know that Schumer and Gillibrand would both add their voices to the growing chorus of support.
On that note, please help Fight Back NY to elect pro-marriage state Senators. We've already won a special election, replacing someone who opposes marriage with someone who supports it. Next week if we get New Yorkers to the polls, we can do the most important thing to get marriage passed statewide - change the vote count by removing those who refuse to support equality.
Next we have candidate for Senate in New Hampshire, Paul Hodes. Hodes is a supporter of marriage for gays and lesbians, and not only supports repeal of DOMA, but was one of the sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act, the repeal bill, while in the House. He supports repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Hodes in an ally we need in the Senate if we want to further LGBT rights - this diary says it better than I can.
Next, the odious homophobe and Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern is up for re-election. She is known for saying, among other things, this:
Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it's the death knell of this country. I honestly think it's the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam — which I think is a big threat, okay? Cause what's happening now is they are going after, in schools, two-year olds...And this stuff is deadly, and it's spreading, and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation.
She is running against a woman named Brittany Novotny, whom she called a "confused 'it', because Novotny is transgender." Needless to say, supporting Novotny is a no brainer for LGBT activists and allies. It'll piss off the uber-religious freaks, get Kern out of office, and elect more LGBT people to higher office.
And last for this election cycle is Joe Sestak. He's in a tough race for the Senate in PA against the crazy teabagger Pat Toomey, which should be enough for many to support Sestak. Toomey has been teabagging for years before there was a word for it. He's an extreme right-wing candidate.
But that's not all. Sestak supports repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and has spoken out on this issue many times. He cosponsored the bill to repeal Don't Ask, and he cosponsored ENDA. He also came out in support of the repeal of DOMA. His working list of initiatives that he will undertake once in office includes:
Providing LGBT individuals with fair wages and benefits free from discrimination;
Eliminating inequitable tax policies that unduly harm unmarried LGBT partners who are barred from the opportunity to marry;
A military policy that allows America’s best men and women to serve their country without hesitation; and
Prevent health insurance plans from discriminating against LGBT individuals. LGBT individuals lack healthcare coverage and suffer from inadequate coverage— particularly transgender individuals.
He is one of the candidates who were formerly in the military (Rep. Murphy is yet another), and he knows firsthand the national security threat that the DADT policy poses. Toomey opposes every pro-gay measure and would spend his time in the Senate saying terrible things about LGBT people. As far as I know, Sestak does not support marriage (yet) for gays and lesbians in his state, but supports the right of states to decide for themselves on the marriage question. And who knows? Once in office activists can work to persuade him on this issue - we just need to get him there first.
So these are the main candidates I wanted to highlight this cycle. In my opinion, these are people we need in office, and we should work to get them the cash they need as well as people on the ground for GOTV operations. If you live near these candidates' campaign offices, please consider dropping by and offering to help them! And send some money their way.
I can't say how much of a change we'll see on LGBT rights after this election but I honestly think having these candidates out there working for us will bring us closer to full equality. I'm very angry at so many of our Democrats and allies and I just want to do something constructive - I want to make sure the right people get in office, so that, at the very least, they can give the anti-equality forces an uphill fight as opposed to caving in.
Will you help?