Tag Archives: LGBT politicians

Finally Someone In Congress Willing To Do Something About ENDA; Senator Tammy Baldwin Taking More Steps


The Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide federal protections to LGBT men and women so they cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation has unfortunately been at a literal standstill for years. Too often many democrats, including President Obama have made promises to help pass the bill so that many of us would have peace of mind. Now it appears that the bill is starting again and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly LGBT politician to be elected in the US Senate, is willing and ready to do what’s necessary to get this bill passed, including reaching over partisan lines. Here’s more:

In a Thursday interview with The Huffington Post, she said a Democratic senator approached her earlier in the day to ask her to explain ENDA in more detail and clarify some of the provisions.

“I said, ‘Absolutely, we can sit down and do that anytime,'” said Baldwin. “I’ll be having those same conversations with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle too.”

Only three Democratic senators have not signed on to cosponsor ENDA: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are the only Republican senators supporting it so far.

The push in the Senate is being led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is the lead sponsor of the bill. He has been meeting one-on-one with his colleagues and having floor conversations between votes in an effort to get them to join him.

So far, Republicans haven’t shown much eagerness to back ENDA. Most seem to be either unaware of the legislation or concerned it will lead to excessive litigation against businesses and hurt religious organizations.

In response, Baldwin pointed to the fact so many states and localities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and they haven’t led to excessive litigation.

“In fact, often it’s provided the tools to work these [cases] out without having to resort to filing lawsuits,” she said. “When people learn, for example, that there is a law at the local level, that they’ve violated it, there’s often an effort to address the situation in many different ways. So we have examples we can point to to when someone says that the sky is falling. It’s not. The sky isn’t falling.”

It’s great to see Senator Baldwin ready to sit down and find common ground with the republican party and hopefully she will be able to find GOP members that are willing to stand for equality rather than discrimination. I’ve mentioned this before so again here’s my take: It’s not just President Obama that is at fault for dropping the ball on ENDA. It’s also some of the leaders in the LGBT community as well that campaigned only for marriage equality as they saw that is the issue that would have a more favorable outcome. We have been focused on marriage equality and same sex marriage and that is all we as a collective have been focused on as if we’re unable to multitask more than one cause at a time which isn’t true.

Look at where we are now, all the momentum that HRC and GLAAD could be using to galvanize this community after Prop 8 was overturned and section three of DOMA struck down has this community energized more than the 2012 election with almost as much on the line. But instead it appears that time and donations are being spent on making rainbow stickers for Facebook statuses. This tepid, tiptoeing around the other issues we face as a community have been one of the biggest things slowing us down. We need to be making it clear that there are still two DOMA statutes in place that need to be taken down so as I wrote about yesterday, our fight is nowhere near the finish line.

When are they going to use their platform to help organize rallies to help get the word out for LGBT and their families to contact their local and state democrats to do their job and asking them to fulfill the promises made on campaign trials and town hall meetings. They aren’t even showing any signs of implementing strategies for the 37 states where same sex marriage is illegal.

What about transgender rights and GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) so that they have the same protections all citizens of this country should have? We know the history of both these organizations with the transgender community with little to no progress in recent months other than featuring one transgender woman in a t-shirt campaign where we don’t even know where the proceeds will go to help, if they do at all. It’s easy to point fingers when you believe you’ve done something when in all honesty, adding to the complacency that this community is rife with and makes those that are working overtime for solutions have to work that much harder.

People are excited at the possibilities they now see after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Now that people see that being fully realized citizens of this country LGBT men and women are willing and ready to speak out and promote change while looking to see what the next move should be. You have their attention HRC and GLAAD, so please use it to it’s full advantage. So we don’t have to wait for baby boomers to fade out in order for all of us to have the same rights that some of us have now.

Democratic National Committee Elects First Transgendered Woman


Over the past year, we have seen more LGBT officials elected into positions of authority and leadership than ever before. And it is always great to hear stories about the transgendered men and women making a difference and further paving the way for future generations. Enter the story of Laura Calvo of Oregon being the first transgendered woman to be elected to the DNC. Here’s more from The Advocate:

Laura Calvo, a transgender activist from Portland, Ore.has become the first transgender woman elected to the Democratic National Committee, according to theStatesman Journal.

Laura Calvo, the twice-elected treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon, has worked closely with Basic Rights Oregon in helping to pass Oregon’s Equality Act and Family Fairness Act. She’s held a number of positions on local, state, and national levels. She was a regional director on the board of National Stonewall Democrats, served as treasurer of the party’s LGBT caucus, served on the Hillary Clinton National LGBT Steering Committee and then went directly to work as a member of the Obama National Policy and Finance Committee once Obama won the nomination.

Although we saw the DNC as a group accept and welcome LGBT leaders and activists, having more officials that run committees like this can help campaign for potential leaders, advocates, and activists that are set on making full equality a reality.

President Obama Nominates Openly Gay African American For Federal Judge: Is The Term “Openly Gay” Outdated?

President Obama is wasting no time since being reelected for a second term. An announcement from the White House released named Judge William Thomas as nominee to Florida’s Southern District for United States District Court. Judge Thomas, an openly gay African American, if approved by the senate, will be the first gay African American with a lifelong tenure as a federal judge.

President Obama released a statement noting the diverse group of nominees this year:

“They … represent my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves.”These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system. I am grateful for their willingness to serve and confident that they will apply the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. Too many of our courtrooms stand empty. I hope the Senate will promptly consider all of my nominees and ensure justice for everyday Americans.”

Judge Thomas will join two other out judges (Judge Pamela Ki Mai Chen of New York and Judge Michael McShane of Oregon) all awaiting congressional approval.

While I feel like this is great news, I came across an article that question why the term “openly gay” is relevant in using to describe elected officials and politicians  Keep in mind that this is from Ontario Canada, a country in which marriage equality and full equal rights for their citizens. But as always I love to speculate and I had to question this statements:

I mention this because I’m thinking it’s time to ditch the phrase “openly gay,” and in fact stop referring to sexual orientation altogether when we’re talking about politicians and public figures.

Why is it relevant? What do we get out of knowing whether a candidate is gay or straight? We live in a province where gay marriage is legal and hundreds of thousands of citizens, gay and straight (who aren’t Mayor Rob Ford) revel in Toronto’s Pride parade.

Even in the American heartland, long-held prejudices fanned by the religious right are melting away. In last week’s election, gay marriage initiatives passed in several states (although it’s still constitutionally banned in 31) and Wisconsin voters elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator.

Is the above statement naivety of what’s really going on in this country or does the rest of the world believes this? We as a community are still in an uphill battle. For marriage equality and complete repeal of DOMA.  We’re still facing the ongoing challenges of making sure our government protects our jobs with initiatives like ENDA (Employee Non Discrimination Act) on a federal level to ensure that LGBT can’t be fired because of our sexual orientation.

Now i know the intention of the author was to make the argument that sexuality shouldn’t matter and I vehemently agree with that. But we are still facing so much opposition. Have we made progress? Definitely. But I feel that we should be so much further ahead of the road than where we are right now.

You see, terminology like this is still very much needed. We still have to show that sexuality does not predicate performance or capability. So yes, visibility is vital. Visibility of not only African American or LGBT in higher political standing, but all minority communities, that has in the past been discouraged is always a good thing.

So until we reach full equality, we need to recognize achievements of LGBT like Judge Thomas. And celebrate it.

Do We Change The World Or Let The World Change Us?


I am beyond myself today. Smiling from ear to ear. Extra peppy and exuberant to almost annoyingly chipper. And ever so often a tear falls from my eyes from the simple sweet victory that we as a country experienced yesterday. Not only in re-electing President Obama, but also the result of having Tammy Baldwin being the first LGBT senator in our nation’s Congressional Congress. AND three, THREE states (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) passed laws allowing same sex marriage along with Minnesota slamming down a measure that would outlaw equality.

It’s an amazing victory for the LGBT community and for our great nation. Though due to my never-ceasing inner monologue thoughts about the future begin to seep in and I ponder. See, I’m a relentless worrier. Not for our victories in the past 24 hours but where we as a country go from here. There’s still a lot of hate and vitriol for the LGBT community and it remains to be seen on whether that is from a vicious bigoted filled campaign by the extremist GOP or if there’s just still an unimaginable amount of anti-gay rhetoric. I sincerely hope it’s attributed to the former rather than the latter. But there’s some hope even in this (there’s always hope).

I read the tweets by Meghan McCain, daughter of the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain, issued a series of tweets over the past few days that spoke of her disappointment in her party. Even though she is a republican, she knows that marriage is a right and should we as a nation should treat everyone with respect. And though as a Democrat I vehemently disagree with many of her party’s stances on how we should run our country, I respect that so much that she stands up against her own party for equality in these series of tweets:

Also very happy to hear marriage equality passing in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.

I don’t need to do any soul searching about what the GOP is doing wrong, I knew what was wrong four years ago when my father lost.#evolve

It may not seem like much to some,  but it is a start or could be a start. Where potential leaders like Meghan see that equality comes first. This is what all political parties should aspire to constituents and of themselves. Regardless, I will continue to show respect my republican friends. But I won’t lie and say it has been easy for our relationship. This campaign has been rough on just about everyone and friendships have been strained, sadly resulting in some friendships being irrevocably severed. We are all still hurt by those we love that supported candidates that not only did not support us, but treated us horribly. Treated us as less than equal, treated us like we were less than human.

And we have every right to be angry. Hurt. But we have to ask ourselves, not today but at some point very soon, how we change the world and not let the world change us. That even though we as the LGBT community will never accept anything other than full equality in our country, we can do more to promote understanding. We can still show kindness to those that have been cruel. We can promote forgiveness when we’ve been seen as unforgivable. That we can love to those that hate.

Yes, it’s my hippie nature in full affect, but throughout my life I have realized that there is not one simple answer to any worthwhile question. That any real solution that comes from great challenges is met with cooperation. We as a community, regardless of political affiliation, have always been that way. Accepting our differences and finding our common goals. I hope we never lose sight of that. Because we can always grow and learn. And love.

I’ve never been a sore winner or loser. I will not rub our victory in the faces of our adversaries nor will I say what they did wrong. But what I have and will continue to do is listen. Listen to different open minded suggestions/perceptions/assertions on where we are and how we can make this world better in achieving true equality. Our world is changing. We’ve got a long way to go but yesterday was the beginning of change, change that we can all believe in.

First Openly Gay Candidate In Chattanooga TN Chris Anderson Running For Public Office

In this is refreshing news, Chris Anderson, from my home state of Tennessee is running as the first openly gay candidate for next week’s District 7 election. Anderson also states that he wanted to be open about his sexuality to be honest when other politicians have had to keep their sexual orientation a secret:

“I’m the first openly gay candidate for Chattanooga in any office. I’m also the only openly gay candidate running for office anywhere in Tennessee today.”

“I’d just as soon it not be the focus of the conversation, but I think people have a right to know. I don’t ever want to be in a place where I’m not honest with the people who I am asking to vote for me … Tennessee is not very socially progressive, but Chattanooga is socially progressive. I’d say [District 7] is the most socially progressive district in the city, and I don’t think it’s anything that is going to prevent me from winning.”

Anderson, 32, has been with his partner for over 10 years and serves as the Bluff View Art District’s director of food and beverages. Anderson is currently in Charlotte, NC for the Democratic National Convention joining roughly 400 others  to show favor for the Democratic Party’s platform on same-sex marriage.

His opposition who has served as the District 7 representative since 2005, Manny Rico, refreshingly said that he will not be focusing on Anderson’s sexuality but rather his experience:

“I’ve heard comments about it, but I’m not going there. It’s not the reason he would not make a good councilman—it’s just cause he’s not qualified. City Council is a full-time job, and Chris being openly gay has nothing to do with his ability to be a leader or an elected official.”

How civilized that Rico is focusing on real concerns for the candidate rather than his sexuality? Kudos. It is definitely a departure from Tennessee legislatures’ ridiculously unjust attempt to pass the “Don’t Say Gaybill that would’ve banned homosexual related from instruction in school.

Hopefully Anderson’s unabashed stance on his sexual orientation will encourage other politicians to do the same. Good Luck next week Chris Anderson!!!