Boston Mayoral Hopefuls Weigh in on LGBTQ Rights

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Boston City Hall  Photo: Wikipedia

Boston City Hall
Photo: Wikipedia

Candidates share track records, passions for supporting the community

By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Reporter—

BOSTON—Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been touted by many as the most pro-LGBTQ mayor in U.S. history. As the candidates line up in the race to replace Menino—who recently announced he would not run for reelection— they shared how, if elected, they would continue to support and advance the rights of Boston’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) citizens.

Boston City Councilor Michael P. Ross shared that throughout his personal and professional life, he has stood up for the rights of Boston’s LGBTQ community.

“My mother is a 71 year-old proud and openly gay woman who has been in a committed relationship with her partner Sheryl for over three decades,” Ross said. “My mother taught me that we don’t judge people by how they look or who they love, but rather what they do and how they treat others. This principle has guided my career in public service. If elected, I will build on the work of Mayor Menino and my own advocacy on behalf of equal rights and opportunity of our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, and loved ones in Boston.”

As for direct action and participation, Ross said he has marched in the Boston Pride parade for 13 consecutive years and was one of the first elected officials in Massachusetts to support marriage equality, specifically when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was proposed in the Massachusetts State Legislature. He said he was the original co-sponsor of transgender legislation that led the way for cities and towns across the Commonwealth and for recent state legislation. He also said he has made openly gay leaders key members of his City Council office staff, including his Chief of Staff.

“I learned from my father, a survivor of the Holocaust, that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander and we all have a duty to ensure the society we live in is just, equal and fair,” said Ross. “As Mayor, the pursuit of equal rights and opportunity for every citizen of Boston—including the LGBTQ community—would be a cornerstone of my administration and policies to support this principle would be my highest priority.”

John R. Connolly, Boston City Councilor At-Large, said he has been a proud ally of the LGBTQ community as a city councilor. He said he led efforts to bring the Gay Games to Boston, worked with Councilor Ayanna Pressley in support of Hate Crime legislation, and supported Transgender Awareness Week celebrations. He also served as pro bono legal counsel to the Pridelights Foundation.

“It is imperative that Boston continues to lead the way in protecting individual rights and remains a supportive and safe haven for all residents in every neighborhood,” Connolly said.  “We need to ensure that acceptance is pervasive in our homes, communities, schools, and government. Vigorously defending our most fundamental rights and continuously expanding our anti-discrimination laws to protect our citizens – irrespective of race, creed or sexual orientation -must remain a priority.”

Boston City Councilor Robert Consalvo said he applauds Mayor Menino for his support of LGBTQ rights in Boston and joined with him in support for 11 years as a Boston City Councilor.

“Early in my career I went to work in Washington, DC for the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and watching him fight so hard for the poor, the voiceless, children, the elderly, and working families laid the foundation for my idea of what public service is all about,” Consalvo said. “He taught me that government is about helping people – all people – pure and simple. I pledge to continue my high level of support for the LGBTQ agenda at the local, state, and national levels.”

Consalvo said that despite criticism from opponents, one of his first acts in his first campaign for elected office was to march in the Gay Pride Parade in Boston with friends, family, and supporters.

“I was an outspoken supporter of gay marriage right from the start,” said Consalvo. “I supported and worked for the passage of Boston’s ordinance to ban discrimination against transgendered persons. I proudly join in the raising of the Gay Pride flag every year on City Hall Plaza, and intend to continue that tradition if elected Mayor.”

Massachusetts State Representative Martin J. Walsh said that he often talks about the fact that his vote on Equal Marriage in the Massachusetts House is the vote he is most proud of in his entire legislative career.

“People sometimes ask me if it was a difficult vote,” Walsh said. “It wasn’t. Sure, I received some calls from constituents who weren’t happy. But it was easy. It was clearly the right thing to do. I come from the most diverse neighborhood in Boston. In fact, the zip code I live in — 02125 — was recently named one of the most diverse in the country. I will always do all I can to protect the civil rights of all of the people of Boston.”

As for his work with the LGBTQ community, Walsh says he voted for the Transgender Rights Bill in 2011. He has also spent time with the young people at the Waltham House/Home for Little Wanderers. Most recently, he co-sponsored H. 2047, a bill to establish a commission on LGBT aging, to examine ways to better ensure the equality of access, treatment, care and benefits for LGBT older adults and their loved ones and caregivers.

The Rainbow Times, via this reporter, also attempted to interview candidates Felix G. Arroyo, Boston City Councilor; Charles Clemons, former Boston Police officer and co-owner of TOUCH 106.1 FM; Daniel F. Conley, Suffolk County District Attorney; Will Dorcena, community activist; Bill Walczak, community organizer; and David Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports. These candidates did not respond to this reporter’s queries.

The preliminary election will take place September 24, and the final election will be held November 5.