Guest Blogger

Special ties to the LGBT community

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 11, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Ashwin Madia, gay rights, HRC, LGBT community, Linda Dorcena Forry, Stu Rosenberg

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.


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Stu,
I appreciate your work over the years, but I seem to see something missing. Many of us, especially those in the transgender community, are not so worried about getting married as we are about keeping a roof over our heads and putting food on the table when we are being discriminated from getting jobs.

Also, violence against all LGBT people has been on the rise, so what about the Federal Hate Crimes Bill?

Marriage doesn't keep a person safe or gets them a job. Will Ashwin Madia only support a fully inclusive ENDA and LLEEA? Once some of us can get back to work and have law enforcement agencies treat violence against us with more respect, then and only then will we consider the importance of getting married.

And, DADT, I'm happy to see he supports the repeal of that. I am also a veteran.

"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."

How is that a tie to the T community?

"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."

What is his position on an ENDA that actually benefits the entire LGBT community? If he's running for Congress from Minnesota - the first state to pass a gay rights law that did not allow gays and lesbians to discriminate against trans people - and he supports an ENDA that would be a major step backward from the law that exists in his state, I think we should know.

Honestly - if he isn't for a legit ENDA, why would he be any better than Jim Ramstad?

What would we do without our allies? Not much!

Thanks so much for your work on behalf of our community, Stu.

Ladies,

When Ashwin Madia guest-posted, he specifically mentioned (in a post mostly about DADT):

Ever since the start of my campaign, I have been reaching out to members of the LGBT community because I strongly believe in full equal rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

Ashwin has stated he's in favor of a fully-inclusive ENDA. Alex, I believe, posted specifically about that - although I couldn't find it in my quick search of the site.

I won't go into the apparent news flash that transgender folk don't want to get married, have never been married and will never be married. After all, that's how it's relevant to the T community. (Although I have to say, if watching the Goodrich wedding isn't LGBT inclusive then it also isn't G or B inclusive - only L. They were, after all, lesbians.) Perhaps the tie that binds is a belief in equality (in all of its many forms!) for the LGBT community?

I will say though, that after knowing Stu, lo, these many years, I am perfectly confident that he supports a fully inclusive ENDA. He and I have had many conversations about the topic surrounding blog posts on TBP, vitriol from the trans community, and HRC's bungled action and reaction.

I appreciate your comments. It does help. My point on marriage has nothing to do with trans people not wanting to get married. I would venture to say there are far more trans people who are more concerned with job discrimination and violence then to marriage. That's my point. If Ashwin supports fully inclusive ENDA and LLEEA, then the trans community will be supporting him.

"Ashwin has stated he's in favor of a fully-inclusive ENDA. Alex, I believe, posted specifically about that - although I couldn't find it in my quick search of the site."

If he is, then great. I simply didn't see anything in this post - or, for that matter, on his website.

"I won't go into the apparent news flash that transgender folk don't want to get married, have never been married and will never be married."

The 'news flash' is that every gay man and lesbian in Massachusetts who has taken (or will tak) advantage of the Goodridge ruling has the right under existing Massachusetts law to discriminate against trans people - and rectification of that disparity was less of a priority for the gay rights establishment in Massachusetts than getting marriage rights for non-trans gays and lesbians who don't even live in Massachusetts.