Editors' Note: Guest blogger Stu Rosenberg is the campaign manager for Ashwin Madia for Congress. A former HRC staffer, Stu is a longtime reader and friend of the blog and our community.
I want to first thank my good friends, Bil Browning and Jerame Davis, for the opportunity to guest post on Bilerico Project. I first met these fine gentlemen in 2006 while I was working as the Midwest Regional Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign. Working with Bil, Jerame and so many more GLBT and GLBT-allies in Indiana, we were able to elect a fair-minded majority to the Indiana State House in 2006 and defeat the anti-marriage amendment in Indiana House Committee in 2007.
Often, I am asked why, as a straight ally, I care so fervently about GLBT equality. I do not see any reason why I need to explain myself. It is those who fight so fervently against equality who should have to explain themselves. We know that history will show that we are on the right side of the debate over equality. Ensuring that everyone has the same rights and responsibilities is pure common sense. The fact that I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the movement is one that I am grateful for, and I truly am honored to be a part of such a great cause.
Of course, I do have special ties to the GLBT community. In May 2004, I actually was able to watch up close the Goodridge couple walk into Boston City Hall with nothing but each other and leave Boston City Hall with nothing but each other and a marriage certificate. I actually got to see equality history, and I will never forget that day.
In late 2004 and early 2005, I served as Campaign Manager for a Haitian-American woman, Linda Dorcena Forry, running to succeed the Massachusetts Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran. Speaker Finneran had led the fight to put an anti-marriage amendment on the Massachusetts ballot and his open seat special election was, at the time, seen as potentially being the tie-breaking vote in determining if an anti-marriage amendment would be on the Massachusetts ballot in November 2006.
Needless to say, few expected a Haitian-American woman with a Jewish Wisconsinite Campaign Manager to win a primarily Irish-Catholic, Boston seat. But during that campaign, we leaned heavily on the GLBT community to get active in the race. We asked them to canvass, phone bank, and contribute financially to the campaign. When knocking doors, GLBT volunteers, just like straight volunteers, spoke about why education, health care, and jobs were important to them and why a vote for Linda Dorcena Forry would be a vote for increased opportunities for all residents in the district. On March 15, 2005, we won with 47% of the vote in a five way primary. And, thanks to the GLBT community, I got to not only see marriage equality history, I got to be a part of it myself.
At the time, I saw nothing strange about having GLBT Americans talk about "bread and butter" issues with voters. Back then, and still to this day, I believe that everyone wants the same things--a quality education for our children, affordable health care for our families, and high-paying, high-quality jobs for all, and the ability to marry and start a family with the person that you love.
Since those days in Massachusetts, I have been able to be a part of more historical achievements including what we accomplished in Indiana in 2006 and 2007. And although I am not family, the GLBT community has always treated me as a part of their family. For that, I am forever thankful.
And now I ask for the community to support my efforts again. I am now serving as the Campaign Manager for Ashwin Madia for Congress. We need a strong voice in Congress for GLBT equality, including marriage equality. Even more important, as someone who has served our country as a Marine Corps Captain and as an Iraq War veteran, Ashwin Madia brings a unique perspective to the debate over Don't Ask Don't Tell. His experience in the military and as someone who defended a Marine from persecution as a result of the Marine's alleged viewing of gay materials, Mr. Madia knows the harmful effects policies like Don't Ask Don't Tell have on our nation's security and will work diligently to have this harmful policy reversed.
Although I miss not being in Indiana with my good GLBT and GLBT-allied friends in Indiana and throughout the Midwest, I know that the movement will only continue to grow. It is my hope that the community will once again support my efforts to move the ball forward for equality here in Minnesota by donating money and time to Ashwin Madia for Congress. To learn more about Ashwin Madia or to donate to his campaign, feel free to visit www.madiaforcongress.com.