Flexing LGBT political muscle in 2012This Week, Around the Nation, Feature Story Monday, January 9th, 2012
End results in Iowa: Both former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney captured just fewer than 25 percent of the votes – with Romney standing on a wafer-thin victory podium and Santorum standing at his side on a second place platform, awkwardly set only one-tenth of one percent shorter than the number-one spot. Ron Paul came in third with 21.4 percent of the ballots.
Squeaker wins and losses will likely define this election year, nationally, statewide and locally. San Diego will have a mayoral campaign; ballot measures affecting the LGBT community may find their ways into the voting booth; and maybe Barack Obama will have to move back to Chicago to enjoy an all-too-young retirement from politics and President Willard “Mitt” Romney and Vice President Rick (I took my still-born baby home for the kids to see) Santorum will make their respective ways to Washington to begin governing the United States. That Republican lineup is merely one possibility, of a handful of similar ones that would not bode well for LGBTs
What might save the country from a too-extreme president and vice president may well be the change that has come over the nation in regard to acceptance of the LGBT community, whose muscle has become more evident at city hall, in state capitals and in Washington in recent years.
But there is the potential for backsliding on rights already won during hard-fought elections of the past, and the possibility of revisiting previous losses to secure new wins. Take for example ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), which has failed to pass the House and Senate during every congress since 1994. ENDA would end discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation – as many municipalities and the state of California have already done – nationwide. ENDA is likely to come up for a vote in the next congress, which will be elected in November.
Both of California’s U.S. senators are supportive of LGBT rights. Sen. Barbara Boxer won’t face re-election for a few years, but her counterpart Sen. Dianne Feinstein faces re-election in November. She is considered a near shoe-in.
Congressman Bob Filner has been a supporter of LGBT rights, but is retiring in order to run for mayor of San Diego. Keeping Filner’s seat LGBT-friendly will be vital when ENDA or a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act comes up, and to keep growing LGBT power in Washington.
Locally, members of San Diego’s LGBT community can choose among a field of mayoral candidates that includes a gay councilman, a lesbian district attorney, and two straight candidates (one a U.S. congressman, the other a state assemblyman) who have each expressed support for most LGBT issues.
Ironically, it’s San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican, who has had the most trouble within the LGBT community. This is largely as a result of endorsements by some conservative leaders, with checkered pasts, in regard to their stances and statements on topics such as people living with HIV/AIDS, and LGBT equality.
The two other Republicans in the race, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher are not without challenges of their own.
That leaves Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego), who, other than his vote on DOMA, has barely a blemish on his record regarding support for equal rights for gays and lesbians. Given our continued minority status (remembering that minority simply means there just aren’t that many of us), the only way for the LGBT community to flex its increasing political muscle is by showing up at the polls in November, en masse and armed with knowledge about the issues and the candidates.
San Diego LGBT Weekly has set out to conduct in-depth interviews with all four major mayoral candidates in the coming weeks. Bonnie Dumanis’ interview ran in our Dec. 8, 2011 issue (Issue 56); next we’ve reached out to the Carl DeMaio for Mayor campaign. Fletcher and Filner will follow shortly thereafter.
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