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9 races to watch as gays run for Congress

Baldwin seeks to become first openly gay senator

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Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, gay news, Washington Blade
Tammy Baldwin, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D—Wisc.) is in a tight race against her state’s former governor, Tommy Thompson, for the state’s seat in the U.S. Senate. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A record number of openly gay candidates running for Congress will face their critical test on Tuesday as many — including U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin — are seeing polls tighten as Election Day approaches.

HOW DO BARACK OBAMA AND MITT ROMNEY COMPARE ON LGBT ISSUES? 

A total of nine openly gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates are seeking office in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. With the retirement of gay Rep. Barney Frank, openly LGBT representation in Congress will look very different after next week.

Baldwin’s race is the most high-profile among these candidates because she’d be the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate and the outcome of the race against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson may determine which party controls the chamber after the election.

Denis Dison, a spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said all eyes will be on the race because — following the spike in polls that Baldwin enjoyed after her speech at the Democratic National Convention — the contest has become increasingly high-profile and competitive due to spending from outside conservative groups.

“I know groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity — also the U.S. Chamber [of Commerce] — I think the total amount is about $13 million they have spent on ads attacking Tammy,” Dison said. “That has caused the race to get very close.”

N.H. MARRIAGE EQUALITY AT STAKE IN GUBERNATORIAL RACE

For her part, Baldwin made public on Oct. 30 her closing TV ad showing workers and families as well as footage of her campaigning with former President Bill Clinton.

“One big difference between Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson is that she stood up to the special interests, and he’s stood up for them,” Clinton says in a voice over. “If you put people first, it works better than trickle-down economics.”

Another race that will be closely watched is Massachusetts’ 9th congressional district — where gay Republican challenger Richard Tisei seems poised to beat Democratic incumbent Rep. John Tierney.

WHERE ARE YOU WATCHING ELECTION NIGHT?

New York’s 18th congressional district is another race of interest to the LGBT community. Gay Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney is seeking to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth, who has a pro-LGBT record in Congress and the backing of gay conservative groups.

In a statement to the Washington Blade, Maloney said the LGBT community should rally behind him because Hayworth has aligned herself with conservative groups.

“Tea Party Congresswoman Nan Hayworth doesn’t believe that my family is equal to hers or that members of the LGBT community deserve equal protection under the law,” Maloney said. “I think folks around the country, LGBT and otherwise, are tired of this extreme ideology.”

9 gay candidates to watch this election day

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

REP. TAMMY BALDWIN

Race: U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin

Opponent: Republican former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson

Significance: Baldwin, a Democrat, would be first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.

Polls: 10/28 Rasmussen Reports — Thompson 48, Baldwin, 47; 10/22 Mason-Dixon — Baldwin 47, Thompson, 45.

Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Richard Tisei (Photo courtesy of Tisei campaign)

RICHARD TISEI

Race: U.S. House seat in Massachusetts, District 6

Opponent: Incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. John Tierney

Significance: Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress as a non-incumbent and the only out Republican serving on Capitol Hill.

Polls: 10/1 Boston Globe — Tisei 37, Tierney 31.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

REP. DAVID CICILLINE

Race: U.S. House seat in Rhode Island, District 1

Opponent: Republican challenger Brendan Doherty

Significance: Cicilline, a Democrat, is pursuing his first re-election effort since becoming the fourth sitting openly gay member of Congress in 2010.

Polls: 10/10 Brown University — Cicilline 46, Doherty 40.

U.S. House candidate Sean Patrick Maloney

Sean Patrick Maloney (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

SEAN PATRICK MALONEY

Race: U.S. House seat in New York, District 18

Opponent: Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth

Significance: Maloney, a Democrat, would be the first openly gay member of Congress from New York State.

Polls: 10/19 Siena College — Hayworth 49, Maloney 42.

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Mark Pocan (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MARK POCAN

Race: U.S. House seat in Wisconsin, District 2

Opponent: Republican candidate Chad Lee

Significance: Pocan would replace Baldwin in the U.S. House.

Polls: The district is widely considered a Democratic safe seat and Pocan is expected to win.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

REP. JARED POLIS

Race: U.S. House seat in Colorado, District 2

Opponent: Republican challenger Susan Hall

Significance: Polis is set to become the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House.

Polls: The district is widely considered a Democratic safe seat and Polis is expected to win re-election.

Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Washington Blade, gay news

Kyrsten Sinema (Photo courtesy of Sinema campaign)

KYRSTEN SINEMA

Race: U.S. House seat in Arizona, District 9

Opponent: Republican candidate Vernon Parker

Significance: Sinema, a Democrat, would be the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress.

Polls: 10/16 Summit Consulting Group —Parker 44, Sinema 42.

Mark Takano, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Takano (Photo courtesy of Takano campaign)

MARK TAKANO

Race: U.S. House seat in California, District 41

Opponent: Republican candidate John Tavaglione

Significance: Takano, a Japanese-American Democrat, would be the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress.

Polls: 8/21 EMC Research — Takano 42, Tavaglione 38

GAY DELAWARE STATE SENATE CANDIDATES POISED TO MAKE HISTORY

Nicole LeFavour, Washington Blade, gay news

Nicole LeFavour (Photo courtesy of LeFavour campaign)

NICOLE LEFAVOUR

Race: U.S. House seat in Idaho, District 2

Opponent: Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson

Significance: LeFavour, a Democrat, isn’t endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Polls: The district is widely considered a Republican safe seat and Simpson is expected to win.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Bruce Majors

    November 3, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Actually a total of 10 openly gay candidates are running for Congress. Hilarious that you leave me out, when 2 pages away an article on DC candidates by your other reporter says “(Bruce) Majors, a real estate agent and longtime gay activist, says he’s running to provide voters with a choice on through his “individual rights” platform and to expand support for the Libertarian Party in D.C. Norton, considered one of the strongest allies of the LGBT community in Congress, is considered the odds-on favorite to win re-election.

  2. Bruce Majors

    November 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Then again, you left out Barbara Mikulski and a lot of people already elected to Congress, so….

  3. Bruce Majors

    November 7, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Thanks to all my gay voters. My 13,462 votes is twice what I needed to create a new, pro-gay, political party in DC. I was especially touched by my old liberal and Democratic friends who told me at the Reel Affirmations Film Festival they had early voted for me.

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Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

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(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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Matrimonio igualitario a un paso de ser ley en Chile

Solo falta una última votación en el Senado

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Una manifestación en favor del matrimonio igualitario en Santiago, Chile, en 2017. (Foto cortesía de Francisca Becker)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile — Como un triunfo “histórico” para los derechos de la diversidad sexual y de género, calificaron los activistas LGBTQ en Chile el avance del proyecto de ley de matrimonio igualitario el martes en el Congreso. Ahora solo falta una última votación en el Senado para convertirse en ley.

“Con 101 votos a favor, 30 en contra y dos abstenciones se aprueba el proyecto de ley que regula el matrimonio igualitario, que pasa a su tercer y último trámite en el Senado”, ha informado el Congreso Nacional chileno en un comunicado.

La votación se enmarca en uno de los momentos políticos más complejos para la población queer de ese país latinoamericano, luego de que el pasado domingo en las elecciones presidenciales y de congresistas la ultraderecha y anti-LGBTQ liderada por el candidato presidencial, José Antonio Kast del Partido Repúblicano obtuvieran un buen desempeño electoral.

Kast, que ha afirmado en muchas ocasiones que existe un “lobby gay” que “busca influir a las personas”, fue el candidato más votado y se enfrentará en el balotaje del 19 de diciembre al izquierdista Gabriel Boric.

“Frente a los discursos de violencia y odio, hace falta responder con amor. No queremos sesgos dogmáticos ultra ideologizados”, apuntó el diputado Diego Ibáñez, del Frente Amplio, la coalición que lidera Boric.

El proyecto de matrimonio igualitario fue firmado por la expresidenta Michelle Bachelet en 2017 y presentado ante el Congreso durante su segundo mandato. Sin embargo, no fue hasta enero de 2020 cuando la sala del Senado aprobó en general el proyecto con 22 votos a favor, 16 en contra y una abstención.

Posteriormente, el presidente del país, Sebastián Piñera, mostró su apoyo a la medida y ordenó suma urgencia.”Pienso que ha llegado el tiempo de garantizar esa libertad y esa dignidad a todas las personas, el tiempo del matrimonio igualitario en nuestro país”, dijo el jefe de Estado en su última cuenta pública.

“Luego de tres décadas de lucha, falta solo un trámite en el Senado para conquistar la hasta ahora esquiva igualdad legal que merece todas las parejas y familias”, destacó la vocera del Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), Javiera Zúñiga, a través de un comunicado de prensa.

“Festejamos este nuevo paso, ahora con la total convicción de que estamos en la recta final. Especialmente felices porque se aprobaron por amplia mayoría todos las indicaciones sobre filiación y adopción homoparental que introducimos en la Cámara. Hablamos de 30 años de lucha, pero de siglos de segregación, cuyos días están contados, lo cual terminará con las injusticias y desigualdades que sufren las parejas del mismo sexo y las familias homoparentales”, añadió Zúñiga.

De no ser aprobado en el Senado, el proyecto de ley pasaría a una comisión mixta. Sin embargo, la actual presidenta de la Cámara Alta se comprometió a realizar su mayor esfuerzo para que sea despachado lo antes posible.

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