I'm a political nerd. I can't help it, I love it. Elections are like bowl games to me and I could talk about politics all day long.
Although it's really easy to get caught up in the mentality of "I want my team to win" during election season but I think it's important to stop and take a second to remember that all of this is about something. Elections just aren't about winning and losing, elections are about voting for someone who shares a similar vision of how government should be run and how it can help people.
My number one issue as a voter is where a candidate stands on LGBT issues. I think a candidate's stance on equal rights for LGBT people, and more importantly, how far they are willing to go to achieve those rights, says a lot about a person. That's why this election cycle has been so interesting for me, LGBT rights are being discussed more than ever before and there are more LGBT candidates running than ever before.
On August 14 Florida made history by electing David Richardson as the first LGBT person to the state legislature. A bisexual woman is running for Congress in Arizona (and today is election day!) and Tammy Baldwin is running to be the first lesbian woman elected to the US Senate. Across the country and in Florida, LGBT candidates are running for all levels of government, and winning.
Both major political parties are evolving on LGBT equality. Under the current administration, more LGBT judges have been appointed than ever before; "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed; a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity was signed into law; hospitals must now allow partners to visit each other in the hospital. And of course, earlier this year President Obama made history by declaring his support for marriage equality. The national Democratic party released a draft of it's party platform this year which includes historic support for marriage equality, condemnation of the "Defense of Marriage Act" and support for employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Republican party platform on the other hand, affirms it's support for a national constitutional amendment defining marriage as between "one man and one woman" and applauds states that have passed similar amendments. It blasts the President for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act. The contrast in the party platforms could not be more stark.
However, I do see some hopeful trends in the Republican party in regards to LGBT equality. The New York Times recently published an article highlighting young Republican support for social issues like marriage equality and abortion. The article mentions a poll done earlier this year by Pew Research Center that shows support for marriage equality in Republicans ages 18-29 has grown to 37% which is up from 28% eight years ago.
This week at the Republican National Convention Log Cabin Republicans and Young Republicans for the Freedom to Marry will host a brunch focused on marriage equality, the first event of it's kind at the RNC. Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders from San Diego will star in an ad about marriage equality that will air in Tampa during the convention. Republican donors are stepping up all across the country to support pro-LGBT campaigns and to defeat attacks on our families.
All of this shows what we've known all along: we are winning. But we only continue to win if you vote and make your voices heard. The deadline to register to vote in Florida is October 9. Click here to learn how to register to vote.