Apr 19, 2015

What’s Left on LGBT Issues?

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Recently I read an article titled “What’s left for Hillary on LGBT issues?” dated April 15th in the Washington Blade, and I was a bit taken aback.  For any activist it is obvious that LGBT Americans do no have equal rights either because of the many anti-LGBT laws and amendments in states across the country, and federally, or because of the obvious homophobia that lives in the minds of many Americans.  There is a long way to go before our country is accepting; frankly there is a long way to go before there is even tolerance as a whole.

Our real question should be “What’s Left for All Politicians on LGBT issues?”  The fact is even though Hillary is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and has had an increasingly good record on LGBT issues, including a landmark speech to the UN in Geneva in December 2011 while she was Secretary of State, she is not yet the nominee.  There are still other potential candidates for that nomination and the election is over a year away.  However, in many states, including here in Virginia, there are hundreds of positions up for election this year.  Every day, LGBT people and their allies should be focusing on all of these elections from school board to president.  Only with good representation at all levels of government from politicians that understand LGBT issues and support full equality will our goals be met.

The Advocate had an article on April 12th titled “Hillary Clinton Will Be a Sharp Contrast to GOP on LGBT Equality”.  This contrast is exactly what we should be focusing on in the presidential election in 2016 and in every election in every locality across this country.  Although every Republican is not completely anti-LGBT rights, there is a stark contrast between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party that cannot be denied.  This contrast extends up from the local elections all the way to the presidential election.  When anti-equality candidates are elected locally because citizens fail to go to the polls in “off year” elections, those politicians get a pass to expand their anti-LGBT rhetoric.  As they move up the ranks from town council, to state legislatures, to Congress, each anti-equality candidate has the ability to make ordinances and laws that impact Americans across the country.  A prime example would be the “religious freedom” laws that have recently made the news, which are nothing but veiled attempts to legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens.

Every election matters!  Not just the one that occurs every four years to elect our president.  Every politician elected matters!  Not just the President of the United States.  Even within the Blade article Dan Pinello, a political scientist at the City University of New York, stated “there’s not a lot she/he could achieve for the LGBT agenda in the near term.”  The reason he cited was that both houses of Congress would more than likely be held by Republicans.  The challenge to every LGBT citizen and their allies is to aggressively support Democratic candidates at every level and at every election.  The answer for us is to elect politicians who will support our full equality and will be willing and able to codify that support in our laws and amendments at every level of government.  The next time a friend or acquaintance says to you that their vote does not matter or that they don’t bother to vote except for President, let them know that their inaction hurts you personally as an LGBTQI person.  Our straight friends and our own community must actively elect people who will actively support full equality every day, in every locality across the United States.  Inaction breeds inequality!

Every year the LGBT Democrats of Virginia endorse candidates that support full equality for all LGBTQI citizens in the Commonwealth.  This year we have already started our endorsement process.  Our first endorsed candidate for the 2015 elections is Don Shaw, who is running in the 13th House District to replace Del. Bob Marshall, one of the most anti-equality members of the General Assembly.  Don has made a career out of service first with 15 years in the Army, then 5 years in the Air National Guard, and 8 more years of service in the federal government.  Don “. . . is passionate about good government and effective governance, and believes we must hold our elected officials accountable to their constituents, not special interests or their own personal, ideological agendas.”  We are excited to endorse such an equality minded candidate, and hope that you will support Don to become the next delegate from House District 13.

To help us support Don and other equality minded candidates, the LGBT Democrats of Virginia held its Spring fundraiser, Shades of Blue, at Chasen Galleries in Richmond, VA on Tuesday, April 28th. The event included blues piano by Roddy Barnes, a local Richmond favorite. We also had a small auction which included several pieces of art donated by Virginia artists Sylvia DeVoss, Kerri Lane, Robin L. Ryder, and Dan Mouer. As well, Senator McEachin, Senator Dance, Delegate McClellan, and Delegate Carr all donated a meal with a constituent and a tour of the Capital for the auction.  If you were unable to attend but would like to donate, we welcome your support as we work for equality minded candidates around the state.  Some of the artwork is still available.  Look for opportunities in the future to bid on these wonderful works.  The proceeds will go to our PAC fund.