LGBT candidates running for political office face the usual hurdles in getting elected, from the need to create effective campaign strategies to the trials of securing appropriate backing. On top of that, they face the extra threat of being vilified by ultra conservative groups claiming that support for LGBT officials assists the “homosexual agenda” and adds to the “homosexualization of America”. But you can help LGBT candidates ensure that they get a fair and equal chance in their campaigns this year with a new Care2 pledge sponsored by the Victory Fund that lets you say no to hate in your community.
LGBT Candidates Targeted With Death Threats, Hate and Smears
A Wisconsin Republican group recently tried to have openly lesbian Representative Tammy Baldwin’s nomination papers disqualified because, they say, she broke rules over how she listed her home address. From The Advocate:
Charla Halverson, president of the Young Republicans of Dane County based in Madison, Wisc., said Baldwin, one of three openly gay Congressional representatives, lists her campaign office as her address instead of her voting address, the Associated Press reports.
“Tammy Baldwin has always been a blind supporter of liberal interests,” Halverson said in a statement. “However, she is now demonstrating reckless disregard for the voters of the [Wisconsin] Second Congressional District by not even bothering to conceal the fact that she no longer lives in the district she was elected to represent.”
The complaint was soundly rejected though as there is a legitimate and very important reason for the discrepancy. After the Wisconsin Democratic lawmaker gained her seat in 1998 to become the first openly lesbian non-incumbent to win a place in Congress, she received several death threats. This prompted state election officials to give Rep. Baldwin permission to list her campaign office as her home address so as to guard against anyone following through on those threats.
Unfortunately, anti-gay animus still remains a real problem, even today. Vandals recently defaced around a dozen of Florida Democratic candidate Scott Galvin’s election yard signs, spray-painting the word “Fag” across his image. Galvin, who came out in 2004 when he was a councilman, is one of nine Democrats vying to replace U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in Congress, but he was the only one targeted in this way.
Unfortunately, it’s not just LGBT candidates that face this kind of intimidation over LGBT issues. A Memphis city council member, Janis Fullilove, who has gone on record as supporting an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance has reportedly received death threats this past week. Police investigating the case, and an incident where a dead cat was thrown onto the council member’s garden, have confirmed that they believe this behavior to be fueled by anti-gay animus over Fullilove’s advocacy. If this is the kind of threatening behavior that straight allies sometimes face, imagine, then, the pressure out-LGBT candidates are under when pursuing a place in office. This is on top of the misinformation spread by groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) who try to hamper LGBT candidates and appointed LGBT officials year in and year out.
Readers may be familiar with how Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS), faced several smear campaigns following his appointment by the Obama Administration in 2009. At the time, the FRC accused the openly gay official of “trying to create special protections for privileged groups (especially homosexuals)” in schools, a notion which was soundly and thoroughly refuted by many LGBT and non-LGBT groups alike. Read the ThinkProgress fact check on that case here.
Support the Victory Fund Sponsored Care2 Petition And Help Qualified LGBT Candidates Fight Hateful Rhetoric
Electing LGBTs to office is important on two fronts. It can help in breaking the chilling effect of political homophobia that, for instance, has so far prevented Congress passing even basic federal protections for LGBT workers. It also makes it harder for anti-gay groups and anti-gay lawmakers to perpetuate misinformation when there are highly visible elected LGBTs working in the public eye and exhibiting none of the extreme characteristics that they are so often accused of, such as mental illness and being solely interested in the aggressive pursuit of the so-called gay agenda.
As such, the Victory Fund endorses qualified, committed LGBT candidates that stand for social justice and civil rights for all. You can browse a list of the LGBT candidates up for various appointments this year by going here. They include Victoria Kolakowski who is running for a seat on Superior Court of Alameda County, California. If Kolakowski wins, she will become America’s first openly transgender judge. There’s also Mary Washington, who could become only the second openly lesbian African-American state legislator in the country should she win the race for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Of course, this is not about asking you to support a candidate just because of their LGBT identity. Rather, it’s about asking for your help in combating those who would vilify LGBT candidates solely because of it.
Sign the pledge today and promise to help LGBT candidates in your community combat the anti-gay, anti-trans rhetoric, because everyone deserves a fair and equal chance at the ballot box.