Entries from: LGBT Elected Officials

Baroness comes out during debate on UK marriage bill

lizbarkerBaroness Liz Barker today told her colleagues in the House of Lords that she is in a same-sex relationship.  Speaking about the marriage equality bill being debated by the chamber today, Barker said she had to declare a personal interest in the legislation.  ”Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone,” Barker said. “She and I have loved each other ever since.”

She continued, “What we are doing today does not undermine any existing or future marriage. It extends the status of marriage to gay men and lesbians who want to make a public commitment in the presence of their families and friends, and sometimes their co-religionists. It reflects the wishes of those people who today do not want just to tolerate lesbians and gay men; they want to celebrate and support them as people in their own right.”

Only a handful of openly LGBT peers have served in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament.

Read more at PinkNews.

Illinois House delays vote on marriage bill

harrisThe sponsors of a marriage equality bill tonight decided not to call for a vote on the legislation as the hours ticked down on the final day of the Illinois House’s legislative session.

Reports suggested there were not enough votes yet for passage, and Rep. Greg Harris told the chamber he would honor a request from wavering colleagues to delay calling the vote on the bill.  ”I’ve never been sadder,” an emotional Harris said on the House floor before colleagues rushed to his side to console him.

“Tonight we are disappointed the Illinois House will not vote on a marriage equality bill before the legislative session ends. But we will always stand with the gay and lesbian state lawmakers who have fought and continue to fight hard to make LGBT families equal to all others,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.  ”Thank you Reps. Greg Harris, Kelly Cassidy, Deb Mell and Sam Yingling.”

Read full coverage at Chicago Phoenix.

Photo: Tony Merevick

U.S.-sponsored event draws LGBT crowd in Colombia

Victory -1 (800x533)More than 150 participated in a panel discussion Thursday night in Bogotá, Colombia, about the participation of LGBT individuals in government as elected and appointed officials.  The event was part of a four-day program made possible by a public-private partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Participants included Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute President Chuck Wolfe; lesbian Bogotá City Councilwoman Angélica Lozano; Tatiana Piñeros, a transgender woman whom Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro last year appointed to run the city’s social welfare agency and Francisco Herrero, director of the Democratic National Institute, which encourages underrepresented groups to become involved in the South American country’s political process. Marcela Sánchez, executive director of Colombia Diversa, a nationwide LGBT advocacy organization, moderated the panel, according to a report in the Washington Blade:

Wolfe said the most basic reason he feels it is important for LGBT people to become involved in the political process is because there are some people “who think that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is something wrong.”
“The basic premise of serving in public office means you represent people,” he said. “They see you as a fellow person who represents you and other elected or appointed officials also have to work with you and they begin to say there’s nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender.”

Wolfe said the most basic reason he feels it is important for LGBT people to become involved in the political process is because there are some people “who think that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is something wrong.”

“The basic premise of serving in public office means you represent people,” he said. “They see you as a fellow person who represents you and other elected or appointed officials also have to work with you and they begin to say there’s nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender.”

The panel took place at the start of a four-day USAID-sponsored training the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice will conduct with Colombia Diversa that is designed to teach participants how to become involved in the South American country’s political process.

Gay candidates win in L.A. elections

galperinRon Galperin has become the first openly gay candidate to win a citywide race in Los Angeles, the second largest city in America.  Galperin defeated Dennis Zine in the race for city controller, an office currently held by Wendy Greuel, who lost a bid to become L.A.’s mayor to City Councilman Eric Garcetti.  Galperin is an attorney, business owner, community leader – and a recognized expert on L.A. municipal government and finance.

Replacing Garcetti on the Council will be openly gay candidate Mitch O’Farrell.  ”I’m full of love for the City Council District that I used to work with and it looks like on July 1 I am going to get to work with them again,” O’Farrell told supporters.  O’Farrell will represent District 13, which has a significant LGBT population, as he becomes the fourth-ever openly LGBT member of the Council and its second sitting member.

“We could not be happier for Ron Galperin and Mitch O’Farrell.  They are committed public servants with deep experience in municipal issues, and they will both be strong voices for LGBT Angelenos,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which backed the candidates.

White House to honor 10 LGBT officials on Harvey Milk Day

White_House_WashingtonThe White House has released a list of 10 openly LGBT public officials it will honor Wednesday as “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”  The event falls on Harvey Milk Day, which commemorates the civil rights leader’s birthday. (Watch LIVE here at 3:00 pm EDT.)

“These are LGBT leaders who have demonstrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute.  ”They are citizen legislators, executives and appointees who serve honestly, openly and proudly.  We congratulate and salute each of them for this high honor.”

The 2013 Harvey Milk Champions of Change are:

  • Simone Bell – Georgia State Representative, Atlanta, GA
  • Angie Buhl O’Donnell – South Dakota State Senator, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Karen Clark – Minnesota State Representative, South Minneapolis, MN
  • Michael A. Gin – Mayor of Redondo Beach, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Kim Coco Iwamoto – Hawaii State Civil Rights Commissioner, Honolulu, HI
  • John Laird – California Secretary of Natural Resources, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Ricardo Lara – California State Senator, Long Beach, CA
  • Kim Painter – Johnson Country Recorder, Iowa City, IA
  • Chris Seelbach – Cincinnati City Council Member, Cincinnati, OH
  • Pat Steadman – Colorado State Senator, Denver, CO