Conservative right-wing extremists are working harder than ever to get elected and trample on the rights and hopes of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. While many of us may be angered and frustrated with the slow progress for LGBT-equality, we must not allow that anger and frustration translate into voter apathy in the November 2 General Election. Whether you vote by absentee ballot, vote by mail, early voting, or at your designated precinct, our community and other fair-minded Floridians must vote to keep our hopes and dreams not only alive but in the realm of possibility.
Over the past several years, I have made many visits to Washington DC and Tallahassee to lobby for LGBT and HIV/AIDS-related legislation. Each visit is exhaustive; yet, each time I have a greater sense of pride with our Democratic delegation that proudly take a stand to be a champion for our community. Even Blue Dog Democrats such as US Senator Bill Nelson and US Representative Allen Boyd are engaged and receptive to make certain the US Congress passes an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), successfully repeals the military's homophobic policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and continues to not only advance other issues of equality, but also increase efforts of equity and parity for LGBT-Americans as it relates to our nation's healthcare systems.
In order to achieve these goals, we as a community, must make certain that our champions are elected. On the federal level, I must highlight the races for Florida's US Senate seat and the 22nd Congressional District (Broward & Palm Beach Counties).
First, let's begin with Florida's US Senate seat currently occupied by right-wing conservative Senator George LeMieux, who was never elected to office. LeMieux was appointed to the US Senate by Florida Governor Charlie Crist who is now campaigning like the biggest flip-flopping political whore to get elected to the US Senate.
Crist's appointee to the US Senate has continually railed up against the rights of LGBT-Americans. This is the same Charlie Crist who supported the campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin, and Crist has continually failed to champion efforts to advance equality for LGBT-Floridians while serving as a Florida State Senator, Commissioner of Education, Attorney General or Governor.
Just last month, Crist has guaranteed that Florida will continue to teach Abstinence-Only Sex-Education and continue to alienate LGBT-youth during a time when HIV-infection rates among gay men continue to climb. In just a matter of days after the election, Crist will authorize the termination of access to life-saving HIV-medications for thousands in Florida to the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). People living in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties are expected to incur the majority of the impact.
In 2008, when our community failed in a fight to defeat the amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions, Crist was often seen grinning for a camera while campaigning to support the passage of the ballot measure. Kendrick Meek is the only US Senate Candidate who stood with our community.
US Representative Kendrick Meek is working extremely hard to be our US Senator and fight for the rights of LGBT-Americans. In the US House of Representatives, Kendrick has continually voted to support all legislative efforts to advance the rights of LGBT-Americans and signed onto "Dear Colleague" letters and letters to President Obama calling for immediate action on issues directly impacting LGBT-Americans. I have never felt more confident that Kendrick is the man to champion equality for our community in the United States Senate.
Another critical race is the 22nd Congressional District currently held by US Representative Ron Klein. Ron, like Kendrick, has a solid record of support for our community. Ron's opponent is right-wing conservative Allen West, a former US Army Colonel who was forced to retire, told me to my face, on several occasions, that he does not support the repeal of the military's discriminatory policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". West compared our sexual identity to that of an improper hair cut.
Like Kendrick, Ron Klein will fight for us. But in order for that to happen, we need to make certain they are both elected.
I share your anger; I share your frustration, but please vote. You have my word that if our community remains active and present during this election, without shame, I will be there with you raising all hell and holding every elected Democrat accountable to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians. I am with you in our fight!