The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund announced it has endorsed a record-breaking 175 LGBT candidates. The Victory Fund “works to elect LGBT leaders to public office for one simple reason. They change America’s politics.”
At Gay Politics, Denis Dison writes that among the 175,
… 8 candidates are endorsed for U.S. House and Senate races.
‘We’re just a few weeks away from making history,’ said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. ‘For the first time ever, LGBT Americans could have an authentic voice in the U.S. Senate and a record-high number of openly LGBT House members on both sides of the aisle.’
In addition to the federal candidates, Victory has endorsed 97 state legislative candidates in 30 states, and dozens more at the municipal, county, judicial and school board level.
Of the eight, one is Republican: Richard Tisei, Massachusetts, seeking a House seat.
Go here for a complete list of endorsed candidates, from local to federal levels.
Writing at AlterNet, Sarah Jaffe provides some recent context.
Thus far in Barack Obama’s administration, we’ve seen the ban on openly gay military servicepeople overturned (without the collapse of the modern military that Republicans predicted) and just this year, watched the President change his mind and come out in favor of marriage equality.
But perhaps the strongest indicator that Americans have evolved on the issue of LGBTQ equality is the fact that there is a record number of openly gay and lesbian candidates running for office this year, including one Republican—and in most races, it isn’t even an issue.
Two incumbents are included in the eight “openly” LGBT candidates running for Congress: Jared Polis, Colorado, and David Cicilline, Rhode Island, both expected to be re-elected.
Mark Takano, who would be Congress’s first gay Asian-American, is a high-school teacher who ran for Congress back in 1992 and 1994, where his opponent sent mailers … on pink paper to highlight his sexuality.
… Takano told Yahoo News ‘ … People look back at what happened 18 years ago and say, ‘I can’t believe we ever did those things.’’
Such “things” do still occur, of course. as Jaffe notes.
Tammy Baldwin, who would be the nation’s first openly gay senator, faced gay-baiting from a staffer for her opponent Tommy Thompson. …
But despite the attack, Baldwin has opened up a lead in the polls in Wisconsin, showing that perhaps Wisconsinites care more about her support for working people and union rights than they fear her sexuality.
It should be noted, via Yahoo News, that
Thompson has not made an issue of Baldwin’s sexual orientation, and said it was ‘a mistake’ for his political director to have sent emails with a link to a video of Baldwin dancing at a 2010 gay pride festival.
From the AlterNet article, another “first,” if she’s elected, would be Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona state legislator. She would be the first “openly” bisexual member of Congress. Her Democratic primary opponent tried to use that against her, telling
… a labor union (which wound up endorsing Sinema anyway) that she was a bad choice because she was bisexual and single.
Sinema, who won her primary anyway, told the Washington Blade: ‘It’s true that I’m openly bisexual. I have been my entire adult life, and I’ve managed to win four elections, and, meanwhile, he’s lost two, so perhaps it was being straight that was the problem here.’
Via Yahoo News, more about the “evolving” of the nation, even in politics:
A common denominator in all the races: Neither the gay candidates nor their rivals are stressing sexual orientation, and the oft-heard refrain is, ‘It’s not an issue.’ If anti-gay innuendo does surface from lower echelons of a campaign, there are swift disavowals — even conservative candidates these days think twice about being depicted as biased against gays and lesbians.
Of course there are those, quite vocal, who do continue to oppose all things “gay,” which probably show up on local levels more often. But changes, for the better of Queerdom, are happening, based on decades of work, much of it done at the grassroots level.
With the departure of Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is not running for his long-held (16 terms) House seat, and with Baldwin leaving her House seat in a run for the Senate, changes will definitely be noticed. But if the Victory Fund’s record-breaking number of endorsements is any indication, there will be more LGBTs serving in elected offices from DC to city councils.
(Victory Fund Candidates graphic via Victory Fund)