By: KC Coredini*—
We’ve come a long way on LGBTQ issues in Massachusetts. This year, we’ve celebrated 10 years of marriage equality, and we’ve watched as now two-thirds of the country has followed our lead. We’ve celebrated the passage of a hard-won update to our state’s landmark anti-bullying law, which strengthens protections for LGBTQ youth. Since January, Brookline, Newton, Salem, Somerville, and Worcester have joined Amherst, Boston, Cambridge, and Northampton in protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places. And the state’s investment in helping youth by resourcing our statewide Commission on LGBTQ Youth is at an all-time high.
None of this happened by accident. For decades, the Commonwealth’s LGBTQ community has been deeply engaged in politics, fighting for those elected leaders who’ve fought for us, and replacing those who oppose our rights with champions of our cause. In this year’s gubernatorial election the contrasts are again stark, and the stakes are again high. To protect what we’ve won, and to keep us moving forward, the LGBTQ community must fight for Martha Coakley as she has fought for us.[pullquote] Martha Coakley has been one of the foremost national leaders on LGBTQ equality. Before others were willing to join the cause, and long after some had left the field, Martha Coakley has fought for our families, our young people, our transgender friends and loved ones. …And her accomplishments have ushered in an unprecedented era of equal justice for LGBTQ communities across the country.[/pullquote]
Martha COAKLEY has been one of the foremost national leaders on LGBTQ equality. Before others were willing to join the cause, and long after some had left the field, Martha Coakley has fought for our families, our young people, our transgender friends and loved ones. She has championed our safety and our equality. From DOMA to bullying to transgender nondiscrimination, she has won on our behalf, improving our Commonwealth and also our country in the process. She has been driven to take up these fights for fairness and equality because those are her values. And her accomplishments have ushered in an unprecedented era of equal justice for LGBTQ communities across the country.
Martha Coakley’s main opponent, Charlie BAKER, says he, too, is a friend to the LGBTQ community. But his actions prove otherwise.
In his first act as a potential governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker chose Karyn POLITO as his running mate for lieutenant governor. Polito has a long, documented record of active opposition to LGBTQ equality. Polito was a state representative during the height of the fight for marriage equality. During those years, she voted five times to strip same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. She was a vocal advocate for a public vote on marriage equality, arguing in an opinion editorial in the Telegram and Gazette that equal marriage would negatively “reweave the entire cultural fabric of our society.” She fought shoulder-to-shoulder with former governor MITT Romney, who made a national name for himself opposing marriage equality. Polito supported the continued implementation of a racist, anti-miscegenation law from 1913 that Romney revived in order to stop same-sex couples from other states from marrying in Massachusetts. [pullquote]Charlie Baker, says he, too, is a friend to the LGBTQ community. But his actions prove otherwise. …He chose Karyn Polito as his running mate for lieutenant governor. Polito has a long, documented record of active opposition to LGBTQ equality.[/pullquote]
What would be the state of marriage equality today in our Commonwealth and our country if Polito’s values had prevailed?
During her time in the State House, Polito also voted AGAINST basic social services for LGBTQ youth, and she co-sponsored a bill that proponents stated was intended to “defeat the homosexual agenda” in schools.
During this campaign, Baker and Polito have reiterated their opposition to basic nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. Their party, the Republican State Party, amended its platform just months ago to oppose equal marriage in Massachusetts.
What will happen to the LGBTQ community in Massachusetts if these values prevail? [pullquote]During her time in the State House, Polito also voted against basic social services for LGBTQ youth, and she co-sponsored a bill that proponents stated was intended to “defeat the homosexual agenda” in schools.[/pullquote]
It’s admirable that Charlie Baker clearly loves his openly-GAY brother. But it’s not enough to overcome the impact of Baker and Polito’s actions and records. After all, no one doubted that former Vice President Dick CHENEY loved his openly-gay daughter, both a mother and a wife. But that didn’t stop the BUSH/Cheney presidential administration from being one of the most HURTFUL presidential administrations for LGBTQ people in U.S. history, which catalyzed the passage of dozens of anti-marriage bans across the U.S. for political gain, and sought to embed LGBTQ discrimination in the U.S. Constitution with an amendment prohibiting equal marriage. Their anti-LGBTQ agenda was not unlike that of candidate for Massachusetts State Representative Ryan Fattman, a self-described “right-wing nut-job,” who Baker endorsed for office just this past weekend in Milford.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
The fight for equal justice for the LGBTQ community in our Commonwealth is not over. Our population is AGING into lives of isolation and neglect. Our youth are disproportionately homeless, primarily because their families reject them. Our transgender friends and loved ones are unprotected from harassment and discrimination in all of the places that we all spend our daily lives outside of home, school and work. We often seek solutions to these challenges in the policy arena. But these are not just policy concerns. These are often matters of life and death for real people who are our neighbors, colleagues and friends. [pullquote]Their anti-LGBTQ agenda was not unlike that of candidate for Massachusetts State Representative Ryan Fattman, a self-described “right-wing nut-job,” who Baker endorsed for office just this past weekend in Milford.[/pullquote]
The LGBTQ community continues to need elected leaders who will see the people behind the policies and stand up for them. We are fortunate that up until now in our Commonwealth, Martha Coakley’s values of equality and fairness for LGBTQ families have prevailed. On November 4, we have an opportunity to ensure that those values continue. We must fight for Martha Coakley now like she has fought for us for decades. Her election, in and of itself, will advance LGBTQ progress, as she’s a national leader on LGBTQ rights and her running mate Steve Kerrigan is poised to become the country’s first openly-gay lieutenant governor. But, most importantly, as she’s always done, because her values demand it, Martha Coakley’s administration will advance justice. And that’s why we must vote Martha Coakley for governor on November 4.
* KC Coredini is the Executive Director of MassEquality. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the Boston College Law School, Coredini was named one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association in 2010 and one of the nation’s “40 Under 40” progressive political entrepreneurs by the New Leaders Council in 2011. She is a former President of the National LGBT Bar Association and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Equality Federation, the national alliance of statewide LGBT equality organizations working to build a strong and sustainable state-based equality movement, and on the Board of Corporators of Eastern Bank.