September 19, 2020 at 6:02 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Lesbian defeats Delaware State Senate leader in primary
Marie Pinkney ousted the President Pro Tem of the Delaware State Senate in the state’s Sept. 15 Democratic primary.

A lesbian social worker in Delaware defeated the President Pro Tem of the Delaware State Senate in the state’s Sept. 15 Democratic primary, becoming the third LGBTQ candidate to win the primary in a state legislative race in Delaware.

Marie Pinkney received 52.4 percent of the vote in early returns in the 13th State Senate District in the Wilmington area in her win over State Sen. David McBride, drawing the attention of Delaware political insiders throughout the state.

Pinkney was among the many progressive, left-leaning Democrats across the country who has challenged more moderate Democrats for seats in state legislatures and in Congress. 

Longtime gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane, who serves vice president for politics of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, which endorses LGBTQ supportive candidates for public office, said the group this year endorsed incumbent McBride over Pinkney in the primary because McBride has a “100 percent pro-LGBTQ” voting record.

“While we welcome LGBTQ candidates, we don’t support them only on that factor,” Crane told the Washington Blade. “We do not dump straight incumbents who are our allies.”

But Crane added that Pinkney “is a compelling candidate and has a great position on all of the issues. We also congratulate her on her victory.”

Most political observers in the state believe Pinkney is the strong favorite to win in the Nov. 3 general election in a heavily Democratic district.              

Although her campaign website doesn’t specifically mention she’s a lesbian, it says she is “an active member” of the PRIDE employee resource group where she works that provides “support and community for employees who identify as LGBTQIA+.”

In a Facebook video she posted in June, Pinkney gives a moving account of her coming out as a lesbian to family members and of the pain she faced when her mother, who is devoutly religious, could not accept her for who she is.

Her campaign website says she grew up in New Castle and Wilmington and attended Delaware State University and graduate school. It says she currently works as a trauma social worker and case manager on healthcare related programs providing services for patients and families.

“I’ve talked to so many in our community who are ready for a change,” Pinkney said in a statement on her campaign website. “I’m running to ensure healthcare becomes a human right, we have clean air and water, safety from gun violence, and our young people have a bright future.”

Pinkney’s primary victory came on the same day that transgender Democrat Sarah McBride won her primary race for another seat in the Delaware State Senate in Wilmington and gay Democratic activist and human resources manager Eric Morrison won his primary race for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives in the Newark area.

Similar to Pinkney, Morris beat a longtime incumbent. But the incumbent, Rep. Earl Jaques, had a mostly poor record on LGBTQ issues that Morris brought up during the campaign. McBride ran for an open seat whose incumbent chose not to run for re-election.

If Pinkney, McBride, and Morris win the general election on Nov. 3 they will become the first openly LGBTQ people ever elected to the Delaware Legislature, according to Elliot Imse, an official with the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ candidates running for public office. Imse said Delaware is one of just five states that have never elected an out LGBTQ person to its legislature.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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