Entries from: July 2013

Quinn nabs major labor endorsement in NYC mayor’s race

Christine-QuinnChristine Quinn has won the endorsement of another major labor union in her campaign for mayor of New York City.

Today, the 40,000 member strong New York State Chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), which is comprised of 36 local unions and five district councils, announced their endorsement for Quinn, citing her leadership as Speaker of the City Council and her proven record of fighting for the middle class.

“As a leader since 1998, and Speaker for the last eight years, Chris Quinn perfected the skills needed to run a great city like New York. In a town where seemingly nothing happens easily, someone smart, strategic and tough, like Chris Quinn, is needed to keep New York New York in the right direction,” said LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan.

The news comes after endorsements by 32BJ – SEIU, with 120,000 members, and the Hotel Trades Council, which plans to spend up to $2 million to help elect her.

If she wins, Quinn would become the first woman and first openly gay mayor of New York City.  Learn more about the Victory Fund’s endorsement of Quinn here.

Senate committee OKs LGBT job bias bill with GOP support

dome (480x640)The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban employment discrimination in the U.S. based on LGBT status, today passed easily in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a first step on the way to a historic full vote on the Senate floor, according to the Washington Blade:

A Senate committee made history on Wednesday by approving for the first-time ever a trans-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and picking key Republican support from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee reported out ENDA by a 15-7 vote after a short period of discussion. No amendments were offered except for a manager’s amendment, although Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he’ll reserve three that he planned for consideration on the Senate floor.

The new GOP support raises the likelihood that the measure will overcome the 60-vote threshold to end debate and pass the bill.  Prospects for passing ENDA in the GOP-controlled House remain unclear, however.

“It is time for the full Senate to follow suit, for the House to vote on this measure without further delay, and for ENDA to become the law of the land,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called today’s vote, “a significant step forward for civil rights, equality, and fairness.”

The White House also weighed in after the vote.  ”The President has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would enshrine into law strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  We look forward to the full Senate’s consideration of ENDA, and continue to urge the House to move forward on this bill that upholds America’s core values of fairness and equality,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement.

Victory, Bohnett send LGBT leaders to Harvard

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute today announced its 2012 class of David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows, a group of 11 openly LGBT leaders in government and non-profit organizations who will receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School this summer.  The Fellows will also enjoy follow-up programming and networking events throughout their careers.
The Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation partner each year to send accomplished, mid-career, openly LGBT professionals to Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, which is known for its hands-on learning experience designed to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities.

harvard-logoThe Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute’s 2013 class of David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows are leaders in politics, government and non-profit organizations who receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School.  The Fellows will also enjoy follow-up programming and networking events throughout their careers.

The Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation partner each year to send accomplished, mid-career, openly LGBT professionals to Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, which is known for its hands-on learning experience designed to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities.

“This year’s Bohnett Fellows are some of the brightest and most dedicated LGBT leaders in America,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Institute.  ”The time they spend at Harvard this summer will strengthen the skills they need to serve their communities effectively, and it will prepare them for even greater challenges ahead.”

2013 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows

Beth Bye – State Senator, 5th District, Connecticut

On November 2, 2010, Senator Beth Bye was elected State Senator for the 5th Senate District of Connecticut. Beth is co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee and is a member of the Appropriations, Education, and Judiciary committees. Beth is widely recognized as one of the state’s leading authorities on early childhood education. She has a strong interest in program and facility development and has had a role in the development of four model preschool programs in the Hartford region over the past 10 years serving a combined 750 children. Beth was named “Legislator of the Year” in 2009 and 2011 by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. She has served as vice chair of the West Hartford Board of Education as well as having coached various youth sports teams over the years. Beth and her wife, Tracey Wilson, were the first gay couple to be married in Connecticut in 2008.

Brian Sims – State House Representative, 182nd District, Pennsylvania

In 2012 Brian Sims became the first openly LGBT person ever elected to the Pennsylvania State legislature when he won election to Philadelphia’s 182nd District seat in the House of Representatives. Prior to running for office, he had distinguished himself as an attorney and civil rights advocate. A former member of the National Campaign Board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Sims served as the Staff Counsel for Policy and Planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association and stepped down as the President of the Board of Equality Pennsylvania and as the Chairman of GALLOP to seek public office.

Chris Clark – Vice Mayor, Mountain View, California

Chris Clark is the Vice Mayor of Mountain View, California and the city’s youngest and first openly gay city council member. He was born and raised on a family farm in rural Illinois, attended local public schools, and was selected at age 16 to serve as a Page for the U.S. House of Representatives. He then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend Stanford University. Chris has broad professional experience in the public and private sectors and is currently the Vice President of Partnerships at a Silicon Valley technology company.

Jessie Ulibarri – State Senator, 21st District, Colorado

Colorado State Senator Jessie Ulibarri represents Senate District 21 in Adams County. At the age of 30, he is the youngest member currently serving in the State Senate in Colorado. Jessie served as the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee this last legislative session. He was instrumental in passing Civil Unions, Colorado ASSET, and many bills for underserved communities in the State of Colorado. For over a decade, Jessie has worked in nonprofit advocacy advancing policies that promote opportunity and fairness.

Kevin Beckner – County Commissioner, Hillsborough County, Florida

Kevin Beckner was elected in 2008 as the first openly gay elected official in Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida. Reelected countywide in 2012, he represents over 1.2 million people. He is one of seven county commissioners responsible for approving an annual operating and capital budget totaling over $3 billion. A native of Indiana, Kevin is a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with Minors in Business and Psychology from Indiana University in 1993. His legislative emphasis is on at-risk youth, human rights, public safety, fiscal responsibility, and sustainable growth. Continue reading »

“LGBT for Quinn” launches at annual NYC Pride parade

quinnlgbtMore than 1,700 LGBT celebrities, politicos and community leaders stepped up this weekend to show their support for Christine Quinn’s campaign for mayor of New York City.

Quinn marched in the city’s annual LGBT Pride parade with a throng of supporters led by perhaps the community’s biggest celebrity at the moment, Edie Windsor, the plaintiff whose Supreme Court case gutted the Defense of Marriage Act.  ”I want to make sure everyone knows that I am endorsing Chris with my whole heart. I think we have to make her the next mayor,” Windsor said.

Other LGBT and allied boldface names throwing their support to Quinn included Bruce Cohen, Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass, Tim Gunn, and Rob Reiner.

“As the LGBT community continues to break barriers and make history, there is no better person qualified – and no other person I want – to continue this push forward than Chris Quinn. I know Chris will make the position of mayor the bully pulpit it needs to be to fight for all new Yorkers,” said Gunn.

If Quinn wins the race, New York City would become the world’s largest municipality to elect an openly LGBT mayor.

Photo via Twitter user @brianellner.

Study: LGBT legislators enhance prospects for gay rights

baldwinveepThe presence of openly LGBT legislators is associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced gay rights, according to new research published in American Political Science Review.

Andrew Reynolds, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said his research showed “once openly gay legislators are in office they have a transformative effect on the views and voting behavior of their straight colleagues”

“Gay members of parliaments have never been numerous enough to act as a voting block with leverage, but they can be legislative entrepreneurs who help set agendas and educate their colleagues on related issues,” Reynolds said.

He identified 67 openly LGBT members of parliaments in 18 countries in 2008, up from just 22 in 1998.  Of the 67, 50 identified themselves as gay men, 14 as lesbians, two as bisexual and one as transgender.

“We know that having out officials at all levels of government helps to dispel the myths and lies often told about the LGBT community.  Sometimes their mere presence is enough to change a colleague’s behavior, but increasingly it’s their hard work and outspoken leadership on LGBT issues that’s helping to move the needle in the direction of fairness and equality,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute.

In the U.S., every state legislature that has passed laws recognizing same-sex relationships has had at least one openly LGBT member.