For the LGBT community in Pennsylvania, there are four races that need attention in Tuesday’s election, as the outcomes could have far-reaching, long-term effects.
Those races — all hotly contested — are Pennsylvania governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives 8th District and Pennsylvania state House of Representatives 26th District.
If there was any doubt this paper would endorse Democrat Dan Onorato for governor, it was eradicated during the gubernatorial debate held here in Philadelphia at the studios of WPVI, when the candidates were asked about bullying. Onorato said strongly that we need to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the hate-crimes law, then went further and said we also need to add those groups to the nondiscrimination laws of Pennsylvania. Tom Corbett, the current attorney general, said he sympathized with bullying victims but they were already protected by law. While there may be some truth to that — if they are bullied based on gender stereotypes — he offered bullying victims not a shred of help. Dan Onorato for governor.
Several of the races in this election are no-brainers for the gay community. One such contest is Joe Sestak vs. Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate seat held by Arlen Specter. Democrat Sestak has what any member of our community would categorize as a stellar record on our issues. His opponent on our issues is, let’s use his own words: “My voting record is almost the same as Sen. Santorum.” He’s a troglodyte. Our strongest endorsement to Joe Sestak for Senate.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-8th Dist.) is another no-brainer for the LGBT community. The incumbent, an Iraq War veteran, is a longtime supporter of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and took the lead on that legislation in the House, where it passed. He voted in favor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and is a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Pat Murphy for U.S. House.
The last no-brainer decision for the gay community is Fern Kaufman, a Democrat running to unseat incumbent Tim Hennessey (R) in the 26th District. If successful, Kaufman would be the first openly gay or lesbian member of the Pennsylvania Legislature. When she ran against Hennessey in the last election, she lost by 2 percentage points. She’s been attacked by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania as a “left-wing extremist,” and for “boast[ing] about her support from Howard Dean’s PAC in The Philadelphia Gay News” in a direct-mail piece. (At least they spelled our name right.) Fern Kaufman for Pennsylvania House.