Editor's Note: Guest blogger Adam Williams is a public relations professional who lives in Washington, DC, and has been active in Democratic politics since the age of 16, helping elect progressives from the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard.
Seldom in politics are we presented with genuine opportunities to push forward and bring about lasting change and build a platform for greater growth in the years ahead. Great leaders of today were once young, first-time candidates - yet the electorate saw their value and chose wisely in voting for them instead of perennial candidates. We now have such an opportunity to support and elect Anthony Woods to Congress.
One need only to look at President Barack Obama, Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) or Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) to understand the power of the American narrative. From quiet beginnings, greatness can and often does emerge to surprise us all. I believe the residents of California's 10th Congressional District have such a moment at hand, and I encourage them to elect Anthony Woods on September 1st.
As I wrote in a Bilerico-DC guest blog in June:
Anthony Woods is a progressive Democrat running to represent the 10th Congressional District of California. If elected, Woods would be the fourth openly LGBT Member of Congress. Moreover, Woods would be even more unique by being the first openly LGBT member who is a veteran and an African-American. What better advocate to have on the Hill than the first Member of Congress to have suffered the discrimination of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
Recently, VoteVets.org, the Human Rights Campaign, the Victory Fund, and local leaders in California's 10th District endorsed Woods. Some of Woods' supporters in Washington, D.C. will join Colorado Representative Jared Polis or a fundraiser on August 17 to help elect Woods. I encourage all who want true progress in the political landscape to join us that night.
Other races in 2009 may have greater value in objective political calculus, but the race to fill Ellen Tauscher's vacated seat (she now serves as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security) may be the most meaningful, especially for the LGBT community.
HRC President Joe Solomnese wrote the following about Anthony Woods:
Anthony hasn't just shown his support on issues of LGBT equality, he's lived them -- especially the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Anthony's support of marriage equality will also be important as we work to repeal Proposition 8, which stripped marriage rights away for California's same-sex couples. There is no doubt that Anthony will be a role model for LGBT youth, and we applaud his continuing service to our country.
The election of Anthony Woods would be a bright step forward for the Golden State, and his election could prove to be one of the greatest political accomplishments for the LGBT community in quite some time.
The near future will hold many challenges for forward-thinking Californians that should remind all progressives that California is not to be taken for granted. An upcoming gubernatorial election and a looming rematch on Proposition 8 will be battleground contests that will remake the political landscape in California and elsewhere across the United States.
The value of having a new member of Congress who has suffered the consequences of a country without universal health care, the need to fight for any post-secondary education and the discriminatory policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell cannot be said enough. Neither is the fact that America could see its first openly gay African American Representative.
As I said in June;
Woods is one of a rising class of America's next generation of heroes. Educated at West Point and Harvard, Woods is a former Captain in the US Army who served tours of duty in Iraq and received the Bronze Star. Woods was responsible for the lives of 81 men while stationed in Iraq. All of his men returned home safe and sound, a rare accomplishment in such a gruesome war.
Yet after serving gallantly and receiving the Bronze Star, Woods was honorably discharged for coming out after challenging Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Firsthand experience of this discriminatory and ineffective policy would no doubt make Woods one of the LGBT community's best advocates for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and fighting for full equality on the Hill.
California has a history of leadership and innovation. Its residents need less of the politicians of today and more who hold a promise for greater opportunities. The voters of the 10th district of California can restore this promise by rejecting perennial candidates and blatant opportunists, and instead investing in Anthony Woods on September 1st. Those outside of the district can support his candidacy by contributing online.