Thursday, March 21, 2019

LGBTQ-friendly candidates, including a Republican, continue to enter presidential race

by Joe Siegel

(This is the third in a planned series of interviews with local media professionals who have covered candidates as they announce their presidential candidacy.)

The 2020 Presidential campaign has a growing group of contenders vying for the Democratic nomination. Senators Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Governors Jay Inslee (Washington) and John Hickenlooper (Colorado), and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (Texas) have launched their candidacies, along with self-help author Marianne Williamson. Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld is challenging President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Sanders, 77, has served in the U.S. Senate since 2007 and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. Sanders, known for his liberal positions on social and economic issues, challenged Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination in 2016.

“Bernie consistently earned a 100 percent Human Rights Campaign rating and was one a handful of House members who voted against the Defence of Marriage Act in 1996,” said Paul Olsen, a former writer for now-defunct Vermont newspaper Out in the Mountains. “Sanders has consistently sided with the LGBTQ community and we represent an important part of his support in Vermont."

In 1983, while serving as mayor of Burlington, Sanders supported the city’s first-ever gay pride march. 

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke
O’Rourke, 46, was hailed by the Dallas Voice as “among [the] strongest new LGBT allies in Congress,” according to a headline from January 2013, when he was first elected to the House. He gave up his seat in the House last year to run for the Senate against Ted Cruz.

According to the accompanying Dallas Voice interview from 2013, “On the El Paso City Council, O’Rourke led a fight for domestic partner benefits and after a referendum to overturn those benefits passed, he led a successful fight to overturn the domestic partnership ban. … O’Rourke said he’s Catholic as well but believes in a woman’s right to choose and believes that marriage equality is a basic civil right and a federal issue. … He said when [his then-congressional opponent] attacked him for supporting marriage equality, he talked about same-sex couples establishing stable homes and stable relationships and how those things were good for their children."

Hickenlooper, 67, served as Colorado’s governor from 2011 until January 2019. He previously served as mayor of Denver for two terms.

Hickenlooper’s support of same-sex marriage has earned him the support of One Colorado, a Denver-based advocacy organization.

“When I first ran for mayor, the LGBTQ community really rose up and from the beginning strongly supported me, and I think I may have missed one, maybe two, Pride parades when I was sick or out of town, but that’s it,” he told Denver’s OutFront Magazine in January. “It’s been a great partnership. Colorado, if you look at it, we have as strong and vocal a gay community as any state in America. Everyone talks about California or Massachusetts, but I think we stand right up there with them.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar, 58, was first elected to the Senate in 2006. In a 2011 Washington Blade story, Klobuchar had supported repeal of the Defence of Marriage Act. “I would vote to repeal this law because I believe same-sex couples and their families should have access to the same basic rights, including hospital visitation and survivor benefits,” Klobuchar said.

Inslee, 68, is the current governor of Washington. He previously served in Congress.

In 2018, Inslee signed into law a ban on “ex-gay” conversion therapy. “Conversion therapy is not so much therapy, it’s abuse, and we are today prohibiting the abuse of our children, conversion therapy, which has caused scars for decades across the country of something that is inhumane and not acceptable in the State of Washington,” Inslee was quoted as saying in a Washington Blade story.

Williamson, 66, is an American spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, entrepreneur, and activist. She has written 13 books.

Williamson proclaimed her support for LGBT equality in a 2014 interview with Curve magazine. “I am a strong supporter of LGBT rights and believe that all Americans, including those in the LGBT community, should be able to get married, pursue a livelihood free from discrimination and have all of the rights afforded under the U.S. Constitution — not because of their sexual orientation but because they are American. It is as simple as that,” Williamson said. “It is also critical that we remove any policy or legislative barriers that restrict parenting and parenting rights by LGBT parents, including second parent adoption.” 

Weld, 73, served as governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. During his time, Weld was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, unique for a Republican at the time.

Trump GOP challenger William Weld
According to a 2012 story in the Washington Blade: “In 1992, Massachusetts’ then-governor, Republican William Weld, appointed a Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. That commission recommended that schools protect students by, among other things, including gay content in school curricula and libraries. Anti-LGBT forces unsuccessfully sued to challenge that. One couple who joined the suit objected that their son was read a story at school about two princes who fell in love with one another.”

A 1996 Harvard Crimson editorial praised Weld for his support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Much of a candidate’s past can be mined from LGBTQ media coverage in their home state or city, much as Chicago’s Windy City Times made national headlines in 2009 when the newspaper reported out the complete answers then-state senate candidate Obama gave in 1996 to a questionnaire from Outlines newspaper (which merged with Windy City Times in 2000). That survey showed that Obama supported marriage equality, even though he supported only civil unions for same-sex couples in 2009. For more of our coverage of this year’s candidates, go to https://presspassq.blogspot.com/2019/01/presidential-candidates-have-record.html and https://presspassq.blogspot.com/2019/02/lgbtq-media-offer-insights-into-growing.html

(Editor Fred Kuhr contributed to this report.)

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