While the focus is on Obama and Romney this year, a significant number of LGBT candidates are making waves in state and federal races. Tiffany Muller, LGBT Victory Fund’s Vice President of Political Operations, who runs a recruitment and endorsement program for LGBT candidates across the country, weighed in on the range of hopefuls. “2012 has been a historic year and we have seen openly LGBT candidates from across the country that represent the diversity within the LGBT community… 2012 is also a historic year because it is the first time that a major political party has included marriage equality in its party platform. The Victory Fund continues to believe it is vitally important to have authentic LGBT voices in both caucuses and representing all ideologies. That is why we are so excited about Richard Tisei’s race for Congress in Massachusetts. By having openly LGBT voices in the caucuses, it truly changes the debate.”
Meet a few of the standouts:
Richard Tisei, an openly gay Republican candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, is running against Congressman John Tierney, an eight-term incumbent. Tisei said his goals in Congress are “equal treatment for everyone, period,” noting that he has been a staunch supporter of the freedom to marry, for example, for many years, including when he served as a state senator. Tisei supports ENDA and repeal of DOMA. “People are tired of the division and the hateful politics and they also realize it’s not, ultimately, a winning approach to politics,” he added.
Mark Takano, a public school teacher, is running for the House of Representatives from California’s 41st Congressional district in Riverside, California. Takano has been active in education advocacy and has served on several community boards focusing on education and Asian-Pacific Islander issues. But he’s running to represent everyone in his district. “I’m running to put Riverside County back to work. While the national economy has been improving, in Riverside we’re still stuck with 12 percent unemployment. I want to make the Inland Empire a place that corporations want to locate their facilities by ensuring that we a strong educational system. Great schools and great job training programs attract great employers,” he tells GO. “I will also be a voice for our community’s veterans and senior citizens. I will fight to protect Medicare from plans to replace it with a risky voucher scheme, and to honor the sacrifice and service of our veterans.”
Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, one of the progressives fighting the regressive policies in her state, is the Democratic nominee for Congress from the 9th Congressional district. She’s been honored by the crème of progressive organizations, including the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club. “This Congress has failed to deal honestly with either the problems facing our country or the terrible toll that the recession has taken on ordinary families. To add insult to injury, some in Congress are more focused on dictating women’s personal health care decisions, like birth control, than getting our economy back on track,” she points out. “I am running to be a voice for Americans who are concerned about rebuilding our middle class, strengthening our education system, and protecting our vulnerable citizens: children and seniors.”
The co-founder of HONOR PAC and HONOR Fund, an organization empowers the Latino LGBT community, Luis Lopez is currently the president of the East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission. A Democrat, he’s also running for the California State Assembly from the 51st district. “I am ready to fight and deliver for the people of my district. My priorities will be to protect the pathways to opportunity and the pathways into the middle class that are increasingly under attack,” Lopez says. “These pathways include good schools, access to affordable higher education, good paying jobs, and preserving access to our community-based health and human service providers.”
Keisha Waites, a first-term state representative in Georgia who won a special election to represent State House district 60 in February, tells GO that the most gratifying part about public service is “being able to be a part of the conversation and still be true to who I am. It’s one thing to be recognized by your peers, but to also be recognized by another group, and to impact that community is amazing.” Waites is one of four openly gay or lesbian members of the Georgia General Assembly and will defend her seat this November. “When I think about the civil rights movement [and] the LGBT movement,” she added, “[as] a policy maker, it’s probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had.”