August 11, 2011 at 10:00 am EDT | by Seth Morrison
Making a difference in Virginia

Adam Ebbin — the only openly gay elected official at the state level in Virginia — is locked in a tight primary for the 30th State Senate District and needs our support. If Adam loses this race there will be no out legislators in Richmond.

There is nothing like an out and proud openly gay elected official to prove to other elected officials and to the public at large that LGBTQ issues are legitimate and important. In the House of Delegates Adam has been particularly effective in speaking out for LGBTQ rights and for the rights of minorities, women, and our most vulnerable citizens. For example:

• Adam helped persuade two governors to issue executive orders protecting LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination in state employment.

• Adam led the effort to expand life insurance benefits to domestic partners.

• Adam was the key leader in the fight against the Marshall Newman Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Adam has successfully worked on a broad range of issues. For example, he took the lead in passing bipartisan legislation to fight human trafficking in Virginia and to bring federal matching funds for transportation to Metro.

Each member of the House of Delegates and each state official that Adam has worked with knows that he is out and proud – and that is essential for our community to continue to build support.

To those who say that it doesn’t matter who wins this race I suggest that they read “Out and Running” by the University of Kansas political scientist Donald Haider-Markel. His statistical analysis shows that the more LGBTQ members are elected to state legislatures the more pro-LGBTQ bills are introduced and passed into law. Having more LGBTQ legislators also increases the likelihood that a state would adopt significant anti-discrimination policies.

Interviewed in a recent edition of USA Today, Haider-Markel says, “It helps push these issues forward. There’s also the role-model aspect of having legislators see openly gay and lesbian legislators in their mix, and basically seeing that they’re just like them. It makes it hard to frame or portray gays and lesbians as really bizarre human forms that don’t look anything like us when legislators are introducing their partners of 20 years and talking about their relationships and their adopted children.”

Adam and other openly gay officials are also crucial role models for LGBTQ young people. Sure, it is nice to have straight allies win elections, and I am honored to donate to and work for the election of our straight allies – except when they are running in a primary against a well qualified out and proud member of the LGBTQ community.  That’s why I am voting for Adam Ebbin in the Democratic primary on Aug. 23rd.

Please join me, the Virginia Partisans, the Victory Fund and Equality Virginia in supporting Adam’s campaign. We must keep his out and proud voice in Richmond.

Seth Morrison is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va. Reach him at [email protected].

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