Aug 1, 2013

From the Chair: Thank you!

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Maggie SacraTo everyone who has joined the LGBT Democrats of VA, given to the PAC, attended the Equality Breakfast, volunteered for us or a Democratic candidate, or simply passed on our information to others, we sincerely thank you. YOU helped make this last year a great success! Now we want to ask you to repeat your support of us and the great Democratic candidates running this year.

On June 29th, we kicked off the general election season by having our first annual Equality Breakfast. We are very happy to have been able to recognize Mark Warner for his political leadership in equality. His executive order giving LGBTQI Virginians protection from discrimination while governor, and standing up for marriage equality now, make him a worthy recipient. We are also happy to have been able to award Tim Kaine the first Mark R. Warner Political Leadership award for continuing Warner’s executive order when he was governor, and for now choosing to stand up for marriage equality. Clips of the Equality Breakfast are available on our website. You can hear from Senator Warner and Senator Kaine, Mark Herring candidate for Attorney General, and representatives from the other state wide candidates as well. Also, you can see speeches by both State Senators Adam Ebbin and Donald McEachin who served as our Master’s of Ceremony, and see our own Charley Conrad receive our grassroots award for his dedicated work for candidates.

We are definitely living in a changing time. We have been seeing great advancements across the country and the world as more and more states and countries support marriage equality. Politicians (even Republicans) are coming around on this issue. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a distant memory, and thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling, the effect of the Defense of Marriage Act has been greatly reduced. In many ways we are making great strides towards equality, but we still face great inequality here in Virginia. Recent polls have been conflicting, the University of Mary Washington Center for Leadership and Media Studies published a study in April that showed that 46% of Virginia voters surveyed said they opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, while 45% were in favor; however, a Quinnipiac University poll published just a few days ago shows that Virginians do support marriage equality at a level of 50%, while 43% are opposed. There is obviously still work to do to overcome the Marshall Newman Amendment, which codified discrimination against same-sex couples into the Virginia Constitution in 2006. As well, we need to put laws on the books that make it illegal to fire a worker in Virginia for simply being LGBT. Yes, Virginia is one of 29 states where this practice is legal.

In addition, three of the most divisive and extreme politicians ever to run for office in Virginia are the Republican nominees for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. The election of 2013 could take our Commonwealth farther down the path of right wing extremism if these three Republicans are elected. As you know, however, the Democratic Party has a ticket in sharp contrast. Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring have shown great leadership to support the rights of LGBTQI Virginians, support a women’s right to health care she and her doctor choose, and promotion of a strong Virginia that is a beacon for good jobs and growth. The Democratic ticket will allow us to turn a corner towards a Commonwealth that is a leader in equality and not a laughing stock. The election of the statewide Democratic ticket and Democratic representatives across the Commonwealth are integral to us rolling back the Marshall-Newman Amendment and establishing Virginia as an equality leader.

The LGBT Democrats of VA have been working hard to support equality for all Virginians.

Our PAC was very active in 2012 and continues to be in 2013. In 2012, the PAC endorsed 20 candidates up and down the ticket and we were victorious in 18 of those races. Our endorsements included local races in Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas Park, Virginia Beach, and Richmond as well as Congressional races. We are especially proud that one of our endorsed candidates was a Board member of the Caucus and is now the first openly gay elected official in Virginia Beach. This year, we have already endorsed all statewide candidates, and there is a list of other endorsements available on our website, with more yet to come. Also, this year we are planning to expand fundraisers and are currently discussing having two in NOVA and one in Richmond. Dates for these events will be coming soon, so please keep checking our website for more information!

One of the hardest jobs we have is to get voters motivated to cast a ballot in non presidential election years. Our goal this year will be to motivate volunteers to come back to help support McAuliffe, Northam and Herring as well as General Assembly candidates. We will need to explain to LGBTQI individuals and their allies that we can make a difference here in the Commonwealth if we can elect Democratic candidates. Democratic leadership will allow our state to become a leader in LGBT rights rather than to lag behind other states that are already embracing equality.

We believe that what we built in 2012 has provided us great momentum into 2013. Thank you again for your support! We hope you will join us for upcoming volunteer and fundraising events in your area. We need to elect a Democratic ticket this fall, so that Terry McAuliffe can continue the work of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Please help us move Virginia Forward to Equality!

Maggie Sacra
LGBT Democrats of VA Caucus