Fulfilling the Promise, Winning Justice

Kara Coredini, Executive Director of MassEquality on the importance of the upcoming elections and endorsements.
Photo: MassEquality

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Kara Coredini, Executive Director of MassEquality on the importance of the upcoming elections and endorsements.  Photo: MassEquality

Kara Coredini, Executive Director of MassEquality on the importance of the upcoming elections and endorsements.
Photo: MassEquality

By: Kara Coredini/Executive Director of MassEquality—

When the individuals and organizations that would come to be MassEquality: The Campaign for Equality first came together, promises were made. MassEquality asked the LGBTQ community to set aside the efforts such as winning TRANSGENDER nondiscrimination protections, increasing funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and supporting LGBTQ youth and elders in order to focus exclusively on advancing marriage equality. We needed to fully commit our collective resources to winning. And we promised that, when the campaign was over, we would take up these priorities and share the load in championing them. Because marriage equality was and is only one piece of a larger agenda for full equality and justice. Championing each of those fights with us, then and now, has been Attorney General Martha Coakley. [pullquote]The gubernatorial field is full of supporters of LGBTQ rights. It’s an embarrassment of riches, reflective of decades of sustained leadership by LGBTQ advocates and allies to elevate the conversation about LGBTQ equality. One in particular, Steve Grossman, was and continues to be a key leader in securing marriage equality here and nationally, and his wife, Barbara Grossman, served on the MassEquality board during the fight for the freedom to marry. Their leadership on and commitment to marriage equality deserves deep appreciation and respect.[/pullquote]

Since 2010, I have had the privilege of being at the helm as MassEquality has deepened its engagement in the work of fulfilling these important promises and advancing our expanded mission of ensuring that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. We have worked alongside the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition to secure basic nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. We’ve joined with BAGLY, Youth on Fire, Boston GLASS and our staunch allies at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless to create the nation’s first statewide, LGBTQ-inclusive commission dedicated to addressing the unacceptable epidemic of homeless youth in our Commonwealth. We partnered with the LGBT Aging Project and Ethos to secure creation of the nation’s first statewide commission to address the unique needs of aging LGBTQ adults. In April, we celebrated the bipartisan, nearly unanimous passage of an LGBTQ anti-bullying bill with our partners on that campaign, the Anti-Defamation League. And soon, we hope to celebrate with our partners at Community Catalyst, Health Care for All, AIDS Action and GLAD, the passage of the Commonwealth’s first ordinance, in Boston, prohibiting discrimination against transgender city workers in health insurance coverage.

Attorney General Martha COAKLEY has been by our community’s side in these campaigns, serving as a public champion and a persistent advocate. She has written opinion editorials and personal letters, made calls to her networks and reached out to MassEquality to ask how she can help. She has done this not to curry favor, but because she is passionate about winning justice.

The gubernatorial field is full of supporters of LGBTQ rights. It’s an embarrassment of riches, reflective of decades of sustained leadership by LGBTQ advocates and allies to elevate the conversation about LGBTQ equality. One in particular, Steve GROSSMAN, was and continues to be a key leader in securing marriage equality here and nationally, and his wife, Barbara Grossman, served on the MassEquality board during the fight for the freedom to marry. Their leadership on and commitment to marriage equality deserves deep appreciation and respect. 

In this impressive field, however, Martha Coakley stands out for her record of action and accomplishment on the breadth of issues facing our diverse community. She is the only candidate that has been a game-changing leader on every issue the LGBTQ community has prioritized throughout her career as a public servant. And, because of that, the MassEquality PAC has endorsed Martha Coakley as the best choice for Governor to lead on the many complex questions of access and opportunity that face the LGBTQ community moving forward. [pullquote]In this impressive field, however, Martha Coakley stands out for her record of action and accomplishment on the breadth of issues facing our diverse community. She is the only candidate that has been a game-changing leader on every issue the LGBTQ community has prioritized throughout her career as a public servant. And, because of that, the MassEquality PAC has endorsed Martha Coakley as the best choice for Governor to lead on the many complex questions of access and opportunity that face the LGBTQ community moving forward.[/pullquote]

Martha Coakley is the only state attorney general in the country to have sued the federal government for the freedom to marry —a case she won alongside her partners at GLAD. Because of that early leadership in taking on DOMA, couples all over the country─regardless of their residence─are married in the eyes of our federal government. We have Martha’s advocacy within the national network of state attorneys general to thank for the DOMINO effect this has had on marriage equality in other states. Her decision to sue the federal government was an incredibly unpopular move at a time when President Obama and most political leaders were on the fence or opposed to marriage equality. But she didn’t do it to score popularity points; she did it to win justice.

But Martha’s advocacy is not limited to her national leadership on marriage equality. Martha’s was the first constitutional office to follow the lead of Governor Patrick in banning anti-TRANSGENDER discrimination, and she was the only statewide office holder to take the time to testify in person in support of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill. She lobbied aggressively alongside MassEquality, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, GLAD and others, helped grow the coalition to include critical law enforcement voices and, at pivotal moments, made personal appeals to her networks in the State House until the bill passed. She was a forceful advocate for public accommodations protections for transgender people long before it became politically expedient (in some circles) to voice such support. But again, her stance wasn’t about winning friends, but rather, winning justice. [pullquote]Her decision to sue the federal government was an incredibly unpopular move at a time when President Obama and most political leaders were on the fence or opposed to marriage equality. But she didn’t do it to score popularity points; she did it to win justice.[/pullquote]

After LGBTQ protections were stripped out of the state’s landmark anti-bullying law passed in 2010, Martha authored legislation in 2011 to address that issue. She pounded the pavement alongside MassEquality and the Anti-Defamation League for four years, bringing key coalition members to the table, making personal appeals to lawmakers, and voicing her concerns in the media. She kept the spotlight on an increasing epidemic affecting our LGBTQ young people, while others seemed to have lost interest in the issue. Because it isn’t the popularity of issues that grabs her attention, it’s the need for justice. In May 2014, Martha stood beside Governor Patrick as he signed those LGBTQ student protections into law.

There is so much AT STAKE in this election for the LGBTQ community and its allies. We have fought too hard for the progress we have made in our Commonwealth to allow the clock to be turned back by the REPUBLICAN Party, which has altered its platform to oppose marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose, and a leading Republican candidate who is on the record opposing transgender equality and who has chosen a running mate with a deep history of anti-marriage activism. We need a champion in the corner office that will fight for justice on the complex, critical and sometimes unpopular issues that remain, fulfilling the promise to maintain the Commonwealth’s national position at the tip of spear on LGBTQ issues.

Martha Coakley has proven herself to be that champion, and the MassEquality PAC is proud to stand with her in her effort to be the next governor of Massachusetts. 

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