LGBT Politicians Fighting The Good Fight

Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

Finding out the electors failed to block Donald Trump’s presidency made me feel like a heartbroken kid all over again. It reminded me of winter in my home state of New York, when the weather forecasters would predict enough snow to cancel school but in the morning I’d wake up to a disappointing light dusting. I remember how I’d brace myself before I’d pulled back my bedroom curtains, hoping against hope to find what I knew wouldn’t be there. Usually when something good is going to happen, you feel the promise of it vibrating in your bones, which is why the contrasting feeling of sinking disappointment is especially difficult to mitigate.

A dashed snow day might seem like a juvenile or dramatic comparison to what is now a confirmed Trump presidency, but I can’t think of any other way to describe what I felt when only two Republican electors voted with their conscience.

The only upside in all of this is, we have some incredible LGBT women fighting the good fight in Washington. I’m beyond humbled by their work and tenacity to make it in a sphere rife with prejudice and misogyny. Every time I come across a disgusting meme trying to “out” Hillary Clinton as lesbian (trust me, there’s plenty) like it’s an insult or that if she were gay it would somehow negate her political resumé, I internally thank the following women for simply existing.

Kathy Webb

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Hailing from Arkansas, Kathy currently represents Ward 3 on the Little Rock City Board. The self-identified lesbian previously served as a member of Arkansas’ House of Representatives, a role she held from 2007-2012. It’s a pretty impressive feat when you consider the state’s Republican leanings and its passage of anti-LGBT law SB 202 in 2015.

Speaking to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund on her time in the state legislature, Kathy stated:

“I tried to be a role model for our community while serving in the state legislature. While it’s always best to ask others if one were successful at that, I was chosen to be the first woman in state history to co-chair Joint Budget, and I was named the most effective member of the House in 2012. Based on what my colleagues said to me and about me on day one and towards the end of the 6 years, I believe I was a pretty good representative of our community. I was also able to work with my colleagues to kill two anti-LGBT bills while in the House and to pass an anti-bullying bill that included sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Unrelated fun fact: Webb is the cousin of Lucinda Williams.

Follow Kathy HERE.

Kate Brown

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 9.39.51 PM

While the 2016 was mostly a wash for Democrats and the LGBT community, Oregonian Kate Brown gave us a collective boost when she was elected as the first openly bisexual governor in the United States. Prior to snagging the coveted role, Brown candidly spoke about the struggle of being closeted and dating a woman before she was outed by The Oregonian in the ’90s. While Ms. Brown is now married to man, she felt uncertainty and the need to hide before she finally felt secure in her identity.

In essay for Out and Elected in the USA, Kate explained:

“I believe it was during my early 30’s that I figured out who, or what, I am. But it wasn’t until it was written in the Oregonian newspaper that I was bisexual that I had to face the inevitable and let those around me know. Thus began my very public coming out as a bisexual. Coming out to my parents – who flew in from Minnesota “to have a talk.” Their response – “It would be much easier for us if you were a lesbian.” Coming out to my gay friends – who called me half-queer. Coming out to my straight friends – who never thought I could make up my mind about anything anyway And, most frighteningly to me: Coming out to my legislative colleagues. At the beginning of the next legislative session sitting in the House lounge, representative Bill Markham, who is over 70 years old, extremely conservative, and a legislator for more than 20 years comes to join me. Over lunch he looks up to say, “Read in the Oregonian a few months ago you were bisexual. Guess that means I still have a chance?!” Some days I feel like I have a foot in both worlds, yet never really belonging to either.”

Follow Kate HERE.

Sharon Lubinski

U.S. Marshals Service
U.S. Marshals Service

Sharon Lubinski is the first openly gay United States Marshal and also the first woman to hold the position in Minnesota. Before landing the job, Lubinski racked up 32 years in law enforcement, including 12 years as the precinct commander of downtown Minneapolis.

During her time as an officer, Sharon faced backlash after she came out to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1993. Fellow cops called her “sicko” behind her back and would frequently taunt her with slurs.

Despite the struggle at work, Lubinski told the paper at the time:

“Hopefully, my coming out will dispel any myths that you can’t be gay and in uniform.”

Tina Kotek

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Tina is a lesbian Democrat serving as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives. The politician specifically represents the North/North East district of Portland.

Throughout her career, Tina has fought for marginalized groups and has been an ardent supporter of noble causes. The legislator’s first big win occurred when she convinced her university at the time to allow housing access for domestic partners.

Now Kotek is actively fighting for rent control, anti-racial profiling measures, and more educational funding.

As for being a lesbian in the political sphere, Tina reasoned:

“Being gay is less hard than being a politician. People have worse comments about me as a politician than they do as being a lesbian.”

In a response to the election results, Tina took to Facebook to issue a statement denouncing incidents of bigotry and hate in Oregon:

“… we are committed to doing everything in our power to protect Oregonians from intolerance, bigotry, or injustice. Moving forward, we ask everyone reading this to consider ways to be an ally to your neighbor. When any of us witness intolerance, bigotry, or injustice, it is critical that we stand up to it and show those being bullied, threatened or harassed that we support them and that such incidents are unacceptable.”

Follow Tina HERE.

Cathy Connolly

Photo: State of Wyoming Legislature
Photo: State of Wyoming Legislature

Cathy is the first ever openly gay member of the Wyoming State Legislature. Interestingly enough, Connolly resides in Laramie, the same town where Matthew Shepard was viciously murdered for being gay.

As for her work in the legislature, the politician bravely introduced and helped to pass many gay rights bills over the years, including non-discrimination legislation which added workplace protections in Wyoming for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cathy has also served on the board of Wyoming Equality and has authored many articles in the study, Out In The Cowboy State: A Look At lesbian and Gay Lives In Wyoming.

Follow Cathy HERE.

Kyrsten Sinema

Photo: Kyrsten Sinema
Photo: Kyrsten Sinema

Representing Arizona, Kyrsten made waves as the first openly bisexual women in Congress. Her voting record depicts her as a champion for women’s rights and a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage despite her conservative upbringing.

In response to legislation banning women from selling their eggs, Sinema delivered this fierce quip to the floor:

“You keep your hands off my eggs, and I’ll keep my hands off your sperm.”

As for the congresswoman’s views on LGBT politicians, she declared:

“We’re simply people like everyone else who want and deserve respect.”

Follow Kyrsten HERE.

Tammy Baldwin

Photo: Tammy Baldwin
Photo: Tammy Baldwin
Tammy made history when became the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Senate after winning Wisconsin’s race in 2012. As if she couldn’t be any more impressive, Baldwin’s voting history qualifies her as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Throughout her years in politics, the fierce progressive has introduced and supported measures like the Violence Against Women Act, the Equal Pay act, and the Early Treatment for HIV Act.
When asked her thoughts on being a role model for LGBT women, Tammy revealed to OutQ radio:

“We have substantive impact as leaders and we have a symbolic impact as leaders. Substantively, we bring our life experiences to our jobs, and they inform our decisions and choices and votes. And so, having a seat at the table matters. But symbolically, we still know there are young people who come out in hostile communities, with less than supportive families, who, when they come out, wonder what they’re future holds and whether they have all the possibilities of achieving their aspirations. And sometimes, if they don’t see role models out there, they conclude that they don’t have those possibilities in front of them. And so, breaking through these glass ceilings has a ripple effect that is symbolic, but I don’t ever undercount the importance of symbolism as well as substance.”

 Follow Tammy HERE.