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Gay congressional candidates raking in cash

Contenders in R.I., Calif. doing well, experts say



U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin attended a congressional campaign fundraiser Tuesday at Mova for David Cicilline, the gay Democratic mayor of Providence, R.I. (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

Non-incumbent gay candidates running for Congress are generally doing a good job of raising money, according to the reported receipts the Federal Election Commission made public after the first quarter of this year.

For the first quarter of 2010, David Cicilline, the gay Democratic mayor of Providence, R.I., has had marked success in fundraising to support his congressional bid. After announcing his candidacy to represent Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district earlier this year, Cicilline has raked in $725,078 for his war chest.

Comparatively, Bill Lynch, a former Rhode Island Democratic Party chair who’s challenging Cicilline for the party nomination, has raised $230,485. John Loughlin, a Republican candidate, has raised $333,763.

Sean Theriault, a gay government professor at the University of Texas, Austin, said Cicilline “looks to be in great shape” heading into the election.

“I would be surprised if he isn’t welcomed into the [LGBT Equality] Caucus after the November elections,” he said.

Denis Dison, spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said the amount of money Cicilline has raised is “hugely significant.”

“This is an open seat and part of the calculus about who’s going to be considered a frontrunner is the ability to fundraise,” Dison said.

For cash on hand, or the amount of money remaining after expenditures in the race, the margin between Cicilline and his Republican opponent is even more pronounced: the Providence mayor has $713,346; Loughlin has $187,537.

“That’s a sign to other donors and to the political establishment that Mayor Cicilline is prepared to fight and win this,” Dison said.

Notable donations to Cicilline’s campaign include $2,400 from the Victory Fund as well as $1,000 from gay lawmaker Rep. Jared Polis’ (D-Colo.) political action committee.

The Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Cicilline, also contributed to the campaign. Michael Cole, an HRC spokesperson, said his organization has made $6,000 in direct contributions to the campaign.

“Additionally, we are likely to contribute the full $10,000 allowed by law through a combination of direct and in-kind contributions by the election,” Cole said.

Cicilline’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his fundraising numbers.

In the race for California’s 45th congressional district, the gay Democrat running for office has also amassed a sizeable war chest, although not as much as the Republican incumbent he’s trying to oust.

Steve Pougnet, the mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., has raised $867,614 in his bid to unseat Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R), who’s raised $1,330,183 to hold on to her seat.

Notable donors to Pougnet include the Victory Fund, which gave $2,400 to his campaign, and Polis, whose PAC contributed $2,000.

Jordan Marks, Pougnet’s campaign manager, said he thinks the fundraising numbers place the candidate in a “great position.”

In the first quarter of 2010, Marks said Pougnet raised about the same amount that Bono Mack raised for her campaign, even though she’s an incumbent. Marks noted that Pougnet raised $304,000 and Bono Mack raised around $320,000 in that time period.

“This quarter is, by far, our best quarter so far,” Marks said. “This quarter proved that for certain we will have the resources that we need to run a really credible campaign, talk about the differences between us and our opponent, and really give the voters an opportunity to make a clear choice.”

Based on the fundraising numbers, Theriault said Pougnet would “be in the hunt” to claim Bono Mack’s seat. But given the challenges that Democrats are expected to face in this year’s election, Theriault wasn’t optimistic about Pougnet’s chances.

“If this were 2006 or 2008, Congresswoman Bono [Mack] would be in serious trouble,” Theriault said. “I suspect that the political winds may save her this time.”

Support for Pougnet among LGBT groups isn’t universal. The Log Cabin Republicans is backing Bono Mack in the race and last year contributed $1,500 to her campaign.

Charles Moran, a Log Cabin spokesperson, said his organization is supporting Bono Mack because the Republican lawmaker voted with the LGBT community when her support was needed. Bono Mack twice voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment and voted in favor of hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“We’ve got longstanding relationships with Mary Bono Mack and she’s backed [us] up on a lot of different issues when we’ve needed it,” he said. “We’re proud and have no problem supporting Mary in this race. It was a no-brainer.”

Still, Bono Mack has been criticized for not taking a position on California’s Proposition 8 when it came before state lawmakers and for refraining from endorsing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Noting that Bono Mack amassed more than $1 million in campaign funds, Moran said the lawmaker is “doing well” and that she’s among the best people in the country working to raise money for her campaign.

“It doesn’t really surprise me that her numbers came out so strongly in the fundraising world,” Moran said.

Moran said he expects to see another contribution from Log Cabin to Bono Mack as the general election approaches — although he’s unsure of the amount — and that members of Log Cabin are making individual contributions to her campaign.

HRC hasn’t made an endorsement in the race for California’s 45th congressional district.

Another gay Democrat is running to represent New Jersey’s 7th congressional district in the upcoming election. Ed Potosnak, a former schoolteacher and staffer for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), is attempting to oust Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) from his seat.

The first quarter filings reveal that Potosnak has raised $81,007, while Lance has received $772,440 in fundraising. The difference between the two candidates is less pronounced for cash on hand: Potosnak has $64,397 and Lance has $473,880.

Potosnak said he’s “extremely energized and proud” of the support his campaign has received.

“I project a strong showing in the second quarter to advance our positive message,” Potosnak said. “I’m pretty confident that with additional support from our community, we can and we will make up for that difference.”

Noting that he’s unopposed in his Democratic primary, Potosnak said Lance has several challengers in his Republican primary that would “likely deplete his campaign funds” as Lance progresses toward the general election.

The Victory Fund hasn’t made a decision to endorse Potosnak. Dison said he couldn’t comment on the candidate’s fundraising numbers because his organization hasn’t made an endorsement.

Theriault said Potosnak’s numbers don’t bode well for his prospects.

“In today’s political climate, a Democratic challenger needs at least $500,000 to be even a legitimate candidate against a Republican incumbent,” Theriault said. “Mr. Potosnak is about six times short that amount.”



Federal judge halts enforcement of Fla. trans healthcare ban

Advocacy groups challenged Senate Bill 254



A federal judge has halted enforcement of a Florida law that bans gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

In his 44 page ruling, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida has barred the state from any further enforcement action against transgender youth or their parents from seeking appropriate gender-affirming care.

Hinkle’s ruling allows Florida parents challenging the ban to access necessary medical care for their trans children while the legal challenge to the bans continues. The ruling blocks enforcement of Florida state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine rules banning established medical care for trans adolescents as well as provisions in Senate Bill 254 that codify those rules into state law with added criminal and civil penalties.

In his summary Hinkle wrote: “Gender identity is real. Those whose gender identity does not match their natal sex often suffer gender dysphoria. The widely accepted standard of care calls for evaluation and treatment by a multidisciplinary team. Proper treatment begins with mental health therapy and is followed in appropriate cases by GnRH agonists and cross-sex hormones. Florida has adopted a statute and rules that prohibit these treatments even when medically appropriate.”

In today’s ruling the court indicated that the plaintiff parents are likely to succeed in their claims that SB 254 and the Boards of Medicine rules unconstitutionally strip them of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violate the equal protection rights of trans youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare.

The challenge to the Boards of Medicine and SB 254 healthcare bans is likely to proceed quickly to trial.

The families are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign, which issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a powerful affirmation of the humanity of transgender people, the efficacy of well-established, science-based medical care, and of the rights of parents to make informed healthcare decisions for their children. The court recognized the profound harm the state of Florida is causing by forcing parents to watch their kids suffer rather than provide them with safe and effective care that will allow them to thrive. We are incredibly relieved that these Florida parents can continue to get healthcare for their children while we proceed to challenge these bans and eventually see them fully overturned.”

Read the ruling:

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Events roundup: Federal gov’t celebrates Pride month

Bidens to host White House Pride reception on Thursday



U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (Photo courtesy DHS)

The White House, U.S. federal agencies, and Congress are honoring Pride month with a slate of official and unofficial events this year, many taking place this week.

Details for some events have not yet been announced, so this article will be updated when new information becomes available – such as details about the U.S. State Department’s Pride reception, which is expected to happen later this month.

  • The U.S. Department of the Interior kicked off Pride month with a celebration on June 1, where DoI Secretary Deb Haaland raised the Progress Pride Flag alongside members of Interior’s LGBTQ community.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs hosted a flag raising ceremony on June 1 at the John A. Wilson Building. The Mayor’s Office is also sponsoring a District of Pride Showcase at the Lincoln Theatre on June 29.
  • On June 2, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security held a flag raising ceremony at the agency’s headquarters with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • Speaker Emerita U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Washington Nationals Night OUT game on Tuesday, Major League Baseball’s longest-running annual Pride event. The Speaker will be honored this year for her advancement of LGBTQ civil rights throughout her career in Congress.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense’s DoD Pride, an LGBTQ employee resource group for service members and DoD civilian employees, will hold its annual Pride month event on June 7 at the Pentagon.
  • President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are hosting a Pride month celebration on the South Lawn of the White House on June 8, which will feature a performance by singer-songwriter Betty Who.
  • The LGBTQ Victory Fund’s June 22 Federal PAC Reception will feature LGBTQ members of Congress: U.S. Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Eric Sorensen (D-Ill.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Robert Garcia (D-Calf.), and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.).
  • On June 28, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff are hosting a reception in celebration of Pride at the Vice President’s residence, in collaboration with GLAAD.
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Same-sex marriage support remains strong at 71 percent high

Supreme Court issued Obergefell ruling in 2015



A Gallup Poll released Monday showed that support for same-sex marriage is maintaining a position of 71 percent of Americans who think it should be legal, matching the previous year’s percentage.

Gallup noted that public support for legally recognizing gay marriages has been consistently above 50 percent since the early 2010s.

The latest figures are from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 1-24.

When Gallup first polled about same-sex marriage in 1996, barely a quarter of the public (27 percent) supported legalizing such unions. It would take another 15 years, until 2011, for support to reach the majority level. Then in 2015, just one month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, public support for legalizing gay marriage cracked the 60 percent level. In 2021, it reached the 70 percent mark for the first time and has been there each of the past three years.

Support Relatively Low Among Republicans, Weekly Churchgoers

Gallup has recorded increases in support for same-sex marriage across all major subgroups over time. Today, majorities of all but two key subgroups — Republicans (49 percent) and weekly churchgoers (41 percent) — say gay marriages should be legally recognized.

Republican support for gay marriage has hovered around the 50 percent mark since 2020, with slight majorities backing it in 2021 and 2022. The latest 49 percent recorded for this group is statistically similar to the level of support Gallup has recorded in recent years.

Like all other subgroups, weekly churchgoers (41 percent) are more supportive of gay marriage now than they were in the previous two decades. However, their level of support has been steady since 2018 — ranging between 40 percent and 44 percent.

Bottom line

Same-sex marriage has received majority support in the U.S. for over a decade, and support has been on an upward trajectory for most of Gallup’s polling since 1996.

Gay marriage became the law of the land after the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision, and President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation to ward off future judicial attempts at undoing its legality late last year.

Among many groups — including older adults, Protestants and residents of the South — perspectives on gay marriage have gone from majority opposition to majority support over the course of Gallup’s trend spanning more than a quarter of a century. But two groups remain holdouts on the issue, with Republicans evenly divided on the legality of same-sex unions and weekly churchgoers maintaining their position against it.

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