By: TRT Editorial Team—
What’s at stake in the upcoming elections for the Massachusetts LGBTQ community? Nothing less than building upon the impressive achievements of Deval Patrick, the state’s most pro-gay governor and the rainbow legacy of progressive Massachusetts, the first state in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Accordingly, for the corner office on Beacon Hill, The Rainbow Times endorses Martha Coakley for governor because she is in a unique position to promote and defend Massachusetts’ LGBTQ people.
“As governor, I will make it a priority to protect the progress we have made, as well as push forward until everyone in [the state] is free from discrimination and harassment,” Coakley stated in a recently released five-page plan entitled, “Standing with the LGBTQ Community of Massachusetts.”
Hers is a collaborative approach, as expansive as it matches a formidable track record of advocating an LGBTQ-friendly agenda. Don’t forget: it was Attorney General Coakley who took on the odious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because the law was fundamentally unfair to more than 16,000 same-sex couples and families across the Commonwealth.
As Coakley put it during the LGBT gubernatorial forum: “As the first and only attorney general to challenge DOMA, I was proud to do that,” she said.
“I was proud to officiate at my best friend’s wedding,” Coakley added, referring to the Legislature’s 2008 repeal of an archaic 1913 law that banned non-resident same-sex couples from marrying if the marriages were not legal in their home state.
Not only is LGBTQ advocacy personal for Coakley, but it is also professional. Gearing up to challenge DOMA, for example, she listened to staff attorneys who spoke about hardships they experienced on a range of issues from tax filing to immigration. Consequently, hers is a social justice commitment that combines the personal and professional.
On a host of other issues beyond marriage equality—transgender protections, anti-bullying strategies, safe housing and access to healthcare, LGBTQ youth homelessness and elders policies, among others—Coakley has been a champion for LGBTQ rights. Her plan is worth a read, available at http://tinyurl.com/trt-coakley.
If that is not convincing enough, check out Elyse Cherry’s op-ed “The Governor’s Race — Martha Coakley Walks the Walk!”
To keep Massachusetts LGBTQ momentum moving forward, the choice is clear: It’s Coakley.
For lieutenant governor, The Rainbow Times endorses Steve Kerrigan, a former Lancaster town selectman, who also served as co-chair of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, as well as chief executive officer of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In addition, Kerrigan was an aide to the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy and was chief of staff for a former Massachusetts attorney general, Tom Reilly.
Currently, Kerrigan is president of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, a private non-profit organization that provides programmatic support services to the families of military service personnel who have died in service since September 11, 2001.
All of these experiences would serve Kerrigan well as lieutenant governor.
What’s more, Kerrigan has an interesting idea to remake the office of lieutenant governor into an ombudsman for residents, business leaders, and local officials so that it would serve as a scissors in cutting through the bureaucratic red tape of state government.
To mark the 10th anniversary of marriage equality, Kerrigan said that he and his partner Jacob Watts of three years, “are excited,” adding, “This hard-won recognition that all of us are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and obligations—and celebrations—is so important, on both the personal and community levels, and it has made Massachusetts a 21st-century pioneer and a beacon of progress.”
For lieutenant governor, it’s Kerrigan.
Another TRT endorsement is Maura Healey for attorney general. A first-time candidate, she is truly impressive as she is out and about campaigning, enabling voters in the Commonwealth to get to know her. Healey, it seems, enjoys the effort, and voters are responding to her energy and commitment.
“People know I am really committed to this stuff. I have experience as a lawyer and manager,” she said earlier this year at Cambridge meet-and-greet forum (http://tiny.cc/trt_healey).
“I want to bring that energy and passion to this [race],” said Healey. “That message is resonating,” along with “my message of fairness and equality and being an advocate and understanding that this [office] is the people’s law firm.”
“I want to be the people’s point guard,” she added.
Sure enough, in her inaugural bid for public office, Healey holds impressive credentials, which include having served from 2007 to 2013 in the attorney general’s office first as the chief of the Civil Rights Division and then as chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau, which oversees a range of operations including civil rights, healthcare, antitrust, environmental protection, consumer protection, and insurance and financial services.
That she is one of openly gay is one thing. That she led the charge in the U.S. District Court in the Commonwealth landmark challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act is yet another. Healey’s were the winning arguments of the nation’s first lawsuit striking down DOMA.
Before taking on DOMA, at the local law firm of Hale and Dorr (now WilmerHale), she was a key player in a legal challenge, albeit unsuccessful, to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a federal law and policy which banned openly gay military service. Congress has since repealed the discriminatory law.
Regarding the DOMA challenge, “I look at this as Massachusetts and the Attorney General’s office ensuring that people’s rights are protected, ensuring and standing up for equal rights and non-discrimination,” she told the website MassLive.com. “To me, that case epitomizes the power of the attorney general’s office and the positive role [that office] can play in representing the state and standing up for its people and their rights.”
For Attorney General, it’s Healey.
The Rainbow Times also endorses Deb Goldberg for treasurer, a former Brookline selectwoman and one-time candidate for lieutenant governor.
In fact, during the 2006 race for lieutenant governor, she had strong backing from LGBT people. And yet, her support for LGBTQ rights goes back to Goldberg’s tenure as selectwoman when, before marriage equality, she advocated for extension of healthcare benefits for domestic partners of Brookline town employees.
“I was dumbfounded,” she said recently, “when initially the issue was framed as financial consideration.”
“For me, LGBTQ rights has always been a civil-rights issue,” said Goldberg. “Unless there is equality, there is a problem.”
President of an adoption agency, Adoptions with Love, she is active in a variety of various non-profit organizations, putting her law and MBA degrees to work on business strategy, management and audits. Goldberg also has worked with Planned Parenthood and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, among other groups.
From an early age—her family business was Stop and Shop—Goldberg learned that “business acumen and progressive values are not mutually exclusive.”
“Every single thing I have done is a perfect fit in this very diverse, complicated and important area of state government,” Goldberg told MassLive.com, referring to the office of treasurer, which oversees the Lottery Commission, Unclaimed Property Division, the state Retirement Board, and the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In addition to Lottery Commission chair, the treasurer also serves as chair of the state Building Authority and the nearly $60 billion Pension Reserves Investment Management Board.
For state treasurer, it’s Goldberg.
Keeping these endorsements—Coakley, Kerrigan, Healey, and Goldberg—in mind, what else is at stake for the Massachusetts LGBTQ community?
Make no mistake: There is a world-view of a difference between the Bay State political parties. Even in 2014, the GOP party platform includes a troublesome harrumphing of traditional marriage and a so-called pro-life mantra. Would that pro-life meant full respect for the lives, loves, and families of LGBTQ people.
Equally bothersome, GOP frontrunner for governor Charlie Baker has not yet come full circle on transgender equality even as he is supportive of a gay brother who is married to a man. A gay brother is apparently okay, but adding public accommodations to existing transgender protections is not. It appears to be much easier—and politically expedient— to throw social conservatives a boogeyman bone under the not so subtle guise of the “bathroom bill” moniker, which Baker has yet to disavow.
Let there also be no doubt as Massachusetts Democrats meet in convention on Saturday, June 14, in Worcester: All five Democratic gubernatorial candidates voice unequivocal support for LGBT equality and social justice, including Wellesley Selectman Joseph Avellone; state Treasurer Steven Grossman; Attorney General Martha Coakley; former federal Homeland Security official and one-time Globe columnist Juliette Kayyem; and former Medicare and Medicaid administrator Donald Berwick.
Equally supportive are venture capitalist Jeffrey McCormick and Evan Falchuk, United Independent Party founder. (See TRT’s story on the gubernatorial forum.)
That is to say, all of these candidates would advocate for full transgender rights, needs of LGBTQ youth and elders, comprehensive sex education in public schools, increased funding for HIV/AIDS, and efforts to combat domestic violence.
Entering the stage on the far right is Springfield-based evangelical pastor Scott Lively, perhaps best known for his local and global anti-gay activism in Russia and Uganda. He is as over the top in anti-LGBT animus and vitriol as his candidacy blemishes Massachusetts liberalism. On one level, Lively’s candidacy is laughable, but his calling out LGBT people for conversion therapy is no laughing matter.
Just as Lively’s anti-gay activism and candidacy are shameful, so pro-gay advocacy and momentum are at play on a field of dreams with Massachusetts Democratic candidates—and the party—in full embrace LGBT equality. Better yet, two of our own—Maura Healey and Steve Kerrigan—are running as openly gay candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor, respectively.
If nominated and elected, their wins would be historic gains for the LGBTQ community, the Commonwealth, and beyond.
For decades now, our community has done the work necessary to bend the rainbow arc of justice from tolerance to acceptance to citizenship. In Massachusetts, this is what EQUALITY looks like.
[Check out our Facebook photos of the event!]