Entries from: Wisconsin

Historic Wisconsin Election Yields Transgender City Councilmember

Gypsy-Vered-Meltzer-x400Candidates for public office who are LGBT can face huge uphill battles on the campaign trail. One of the most frequent challenges for aspiring lawmakers is to avoid the label of “the gay candidate”. Sexual orientation can unfortunately become the sticking point in public discourse and media attention, something pundits and voters dwell on that can obscure consideration of the qualities needed to make a competent and committed public servant.  As candidates score unprecedented victories throughout the country, there is a balancing act of applauding these historic milestones in LGBT representation while reminding voters that effective leadership involves so much more than whom somebody loves or how they identify.

While the advancement of LGBT people into appointed or elected positions is certainly an achievement worthy of celebration, the election victory of a transgender candidate, for any office in any city, is truly ground-breaking. This week, the residents of Appleton, Wis. voted in a transgender candidate to the city council, the first openly trans individual in the state’s history to serve as a public official.

With a head of dreadlocked hair and over fifty tattoos, Gypsy Vered Meltzer is not exactly the most immediately palatable hopeful for public office, especially in Middle America. His victory, therefore, signals a very promising sign of inevitable change in unlikely places. Though local and state advocacy groups cheered his success, Meltzer, 31, is steeling himself for community opposition. “I can see some push back, but I hope they’ll get over it,” said Meltzer, who identifies as a man. “I don’t want to lose focus on the issues and increasing communications between the city and its residents. I look forward to the day when this isn’t as interesting of a topic.”

Meltzer hopes that his election will help inspire young people and those from all walks of life to become engaged in politics. “As someone who is part of various subcultures, I want to show everyone that the door’s open, come on in and be part of local government,” he said.

Area activists could not be more thrilled with the development. “Every time a trans person succeeds in anything related to the public, it is a step forward,” said Loree Cook-Daniels, policy and program director at FORGE, a Milwaukee transgender advocacy group. “It’s an acknowledgement that we’re just like everyone else and it shouldn’t be the issue by which we’re judged.”

Pocan will be next out Member of Congress

pocan221Democratic Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan will succeed Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. House of Representatives, marking the first time an openly LGBT member of Congress will be followed by another in the same Congressional District.

Pocan easily won his general election in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which Baldwin has represented since 1998.  She decided to leave the seat to run for the U.S. Senate this year, a race that has not been called yet this evening.

“Mark is an outstanding public servant and he will be a fantastic member of Congress,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.  ”Nobody is better suited to follow in Tammy Baldwin’s footsteps in the House.  He’s a fighter, and he’ll be a strong voice for LGBT equality.”

BREAKING: Tammy Baldwin elected to the U.S. Senate

tammyRep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has become the first openly LGBT candidate to win election to the U.S. Senate.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, issued the following statement:

“This night will go down in history.  This is a historic victory not only for the people of Wisconsin, but for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country who have finally gained an authentic and powerful voice in Congress’ upper chamber. Tonight Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries, and we could not be more thrilled.

As Tammy said earlier this morning when she stopped to vote in Madison, ‘The people who had faith that this was possible made it possible.’  So I want to thank her supporters for keeping the faith.  Thank you for sticking with us and believing this community can achieve great things.  We can, and we did.  I also want to thank our remarkable partners at EMILY’s List, who have been tireless in fighting for Tammy’s election, and I want to congratulate the hundreds of volunteers and groups who worked so hard during this campaign.”

Victory is encouraging supporters to send Tammy Baldwin their congratulations.

Tammy Baldwin releases ad featuring President Bill Clinton

baldwinclintonad

Get involved today to help elect the 1st openly LGBT U.S. Senator.

Tammy Baldwin, who could become the first openly LGBT U.S. Senator, released a final ad featuring President Bill Clinton:

In the final days before the election, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is encouraging supporters across the country to help get out the vote for Tammy Baldwin from their homes. Victory has also organized a strategy call for supporters with Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, October 31, at 4:30pm EDT.

Poll: Baldwin takes lead in race for the Senate

tammy-jacketRep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has surged to a five point lead in the race for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, according to a new poll conducted for the campaign.  Baldwin now leads former Gov. Tommy Thompson by 50% to 45%.

The dramatic shift in the race comes after aggressive advertising by the Baldwin campaign and other groups highlighting Thompson’s advocacy for corporate interests as a Washington lobbyist.  Voters now see Baldwin as much more likely to stand up for the middle class and protect Medicare.

Thompson had experienced a post-primary bounce in the polls, but that appears now to have completely dissipated.  ”Now that this race is down to just two candidates, the choice could not be clearer,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has endorsed Baldwin.  ”Tammy’s strength is her long record of standing up for Wisconsin’s working families, and voters are discovering that’s not what Tommy Thompson has been doing in recent years.”

UPDATE — 3:30pm:  Democracy for America and Public Policy Polling confirm the shift in Wisconsin.  Their new poll released this afternoon finds Tammy Baldwin leading Tommy Thompson 48% to 45%.  The polling memo is here.