My job is to help more LGBT Americans get elected to public office, so I’m thankful that I rarely have to convince talented, ambitious and passionate people to step up and run for office. We’re doing that in a lot of places now, but we should aim higher.
Like most people, I have to meet certain benchmarks set by my bosses on our Board of Directors. Together we survey the political landscape and determine what’s possible and what we should be aiming to accomplish. We talk about places where we think we can elect an openly gay city councilmember, a lesbian mayor, a transgender state senator. But we’ve never talked about electing an openly LGBT president, and in a season when we’ve grown comfortable with the notion that our next president could be a woman or an African-American, I wonder why we haven’t.
How crazy is this? Perhaps not as much as you think.
Less than two decades ago the idea that two men or two women could be legally married in the United States seemed absurd and unattainable. Today, thanks to the hard work of groups in Massachusetts like GLAD and MassEquality, it’s happening. Nobody had heard of civil unions just a few decades ago. Today, embracing them for same-sex couples is considered a moderate position. Not that long ago, gay teachers were routinely fired when they were outed. Today that seems unbelievable.
So when should our community start focusing on building our political power to the point where one day it won’t be considered so absurd or unattainable that an openly LGBT candidate can win the White House? That very thought is crossing the minds of more than a few people in places like Germany and France, where openly gay mayors in Berlin and Paris are now routinely talked about as their parties’ standard-bearers.
Our achievements as a movement, as a community, almost always flow from big ideas hatched by those who came before us. I hope we never stop thinking big. Those who will follow us need us to.