September is here and another summer draws to a close. This has been an exciting one with interesting headlines written every day. On the political landscape since Memorial Day, Republican candidates for president have managed to outdo each other in saying inane things. All except Jon Huntsman, Jr., are bragging about who has a better way to deny civil and human rights to the LGBT community.
The president’s approval ratings have plunged and Standard and Poor’s downgraded U.S. credit based partly on our dysfunctional Congress. Financial instability has caused the stock market to gyrate wildly and many people are again thinking of putting off their retirement, at least those still working.
In Rehoboth Beach, D.C.’s gay summer getaway, a gay candidate for mayor lost but gay businessman Mark Hunker won a seat on the Commission. In Virginia, we celebrated the Democratic primary victory of Del. Adam Ebbin, who will most certainly be the first openly gay member of the Virginia State Senate. In Wisconsin, Democrats came up short in their effort to retake the Senate but did manage to recall two Republicans, no small feat, but how you spin that result depends on which party you support. Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold has said he will not try to reclaim his seat, leaving the primary field open for Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). This will be a long, arduous and expensive campaign. Baldwin has a good shot at being the first out lesbian elected to the United States Senate. She would join other still closeted members of the LGBT community in that esteemed body and maybe give some of them the courage to come out.
We were also treated, if that is the appropriate word, to online semi-nude pictures of a congressman who was forced to resign and the announcement that the House of Representatives is ending its page program, well respected despite some problems with errant congressmen. We saw the passage of marriage equality in New York and the political realities of that event forcing the hand of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to push marriage equality so he can compete politically in 2016 with the hero of New York’s fight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Then there was the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. While the official dedication was rained out we were reminded that while we have come a long way in securing the rights of African Americans there is still a long way to go in that fight and in the fight for full civil and human rights for the LGBT community. Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, organized an LGBT remembrance of MLK in the Rayburn HOB and each speaker reminded us that we need to rededicate ourselves to King’s ideals. Then just this week, the Human Rights Campaign announced the resignation of Joe Solmonese and a planned search for a new president. While Solmonese’s tenure is viewed differently by many I think that all-in-all we will look back at the Solmonese era at HRC as a success for both the organization and our community. Being president of HRC is not a job for the weak of heart.
The weather kept making headlines as well. First it was hot, hot, hot and then the East Coast experienced an unusual 5.9 earthquake centered about 87 miles from D.C., followed by a massive hurricane that triggered the evacuation of many coastal communities, including Rehoboth Beach. Now we wait for the locusts. Some thought Pat Robertson or some other evangelical minister would say it was all retribution for gaining LGBT rights, instead some dumb rabbi in New York said it. Maybe Robertson’s not speaking up because the epicenter of the earthquake was in Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) district, and he wouldn’t want to blame a Republican.
For many gays and lesbians on the East Coast, the last big weekend of the summer, Labor Day, will be spent in Provincetown, Fire Island or Rehoboth Beach. My choice is Rehoboth, weather permitting, with plenty of time spent on the Aqua deck. Rehoboth this summer saw the opening of a new Universal Gear store and toward the end of summer the opening of JAM, a new bistro from the owners of Eden.
So as summer 2011 comes to a close, it’s time to get out your checkbooks, as both the campaign and fundraising seasons are moving into full gear.