Nov 2, 2014

Candidate Spotlight: Don Beyer, 8th Congressional District

Don Beyer is a successful businessman and Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 8th congressional district in Northern Virginia. He is the former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and recently served in President Obama’s administration as Ambassador to Switzerland. As the Ambassador to Switzerland, Beyer worked to impose tough international sanctions to bring Iran to the bargaining table and led efforts to crack down on Swiss bank secrecy.

Don began his career in public service in 1989, when he was first elected as Virginia’s 36th Lieutenant Governor alongside Governor Douglas Wilder. He became the first champion for Virginians with physical and sensory disabilities, chairing a disabilities commission for eight years that has become a central responsibility of subsequent lieutenant governors. While leading Virginia’s Poverty and Welfare Reform Commission, Don was credited with passing the state’s landmark welfare reform legislation, which has served as a model for federal reforms. As Chair of the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, he helped pass permanent pro-business reforms and was co-founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

Following his two terms in office, Don committed himself to giving back to his community. For fourteen years, he chaired Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state’s most successful high school dropout prevention program. He spent three years as president at Youth for Tomorrow, a home for troubled adolescent boys founded by Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

Among the issues Beyer lists as priorities are: Creating good jobs including raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hr, improving schools, and stronger gun control laws. He is a strong advocate for women’s rights including equal pay for women, expanded family leave and protecting a woman’s right to choose. He supports helping provide a strong safety net by protecting and advancing health care reform and protecting social security and medicare.

He also is a strong supporter of the LGBT community, stating: “I support full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. As a member of Congress, I would support legislation that bans job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe the institution of marriage should be available to committed, same-sex couples, and I would work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe equality is not complete until it reaches every aspect of our society, including adoption and immigration sponsorship.”

He also wants to see immigration reform happen sooner than later. He states: “As a businessman, I’ve heard tales of hardship from many people who crossed borders to find a safe home here in the United States. One such friend, Manuel, had a choice in his Salvadoran village between joining a death squad or being killed by it. He fled in the middle of the night and today is an American citizen with a happy life full of opportunity.

There must be a path to citizenship for the hard-working people who contribute to our communities. They help keep our economy strong and deserve the opportunity to become new Americans. We also need to ensure that children who came to the United States early in life have the chance to attend college, receive in-state tuition, and work toward their dreams just like every other hard working student. I fully support the DREAM Act and would urge my colleagues in Congress to do the same.”

The LGBT Democrats of Virginia endorse Don Beyer for the 8th Congressional District, and hope that supporters of equality in that District will show up and vote for Beyer on November 4.