LGBTQ activist heads Warren’s new Philadelphia office

Democratic presidential candidates on Jan. 14, 2020. (AP)

The only Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3 saw Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on her game.

She received applause when she countered the argument that women can’t be president. Warren said, “Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women — Amy [Klobuchar] and me.”

Warren has been up and down in the polls by increments but has remained in the top three since June. Warren is currently in a virtual four-way tie in Iowa with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In what is expected to be a protracted primary due to the closeness of the race and what remains a large pool of a dozen candidates, Warren opened an office in the Cedar Park area of West Philadelphia on Jan. 9. The Pennsylvania primary is not until April, so the opening of the office indicates Warren expects to be in it to win it — and some of the state’s 153 delegates.

The news of the new office was welcomed by many in the LGBTQ community who view Warren — ranked among the top three most progressive senators — as the standard-bearer for progressive causes. Maddy Gold, a professor at a local university, said, “As a lesbian and as an educator living in a poor, majority Black neighborhood in the poorest big city in America, I want a candidate who I know is fully committed to progressive change. Trump is harming this city, my family, my students and my communities every day.”

Gold said Warren has “the broadest and most comprehensive platform for LGBTQ people.”

In the Iowa debate, Warren was the only candidate to raise LGBTQ issues. In her closing, as Warren enumerated what is “broken” in America, she noted, “I sat here in the break and just made notes about many of the things we didn’t get to talk about tonight: how the disability community is struggling for true equality, how trans women, particularly trans women of color, are at risk.”

Warren’s hiring of out LGBTQ activist Anne Wakabayashi as Pennsylvania state director for her campaign further illustrates her commitment to the queer community. Wakabayashi is a former member of Philly for Warren and executive director of the progressive advocacy group, Emerge Pennsylvania. In addition to being a veteran of various political campaigns, she was also chair of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.

Wakabayashi is excited about her involvement with the Warren campaign, which is already in high gear in their West Philly office. “We have an amazing grassroots network that is active in Pennsylvania right now,” she said of the opening of the new office. “The movement is already happening on the ground.”

Mayor Jim Kenney agrees. Breaking ranks with some other local politicians who are supporting Biden, and former Mayor Michael Nutter, who is working for Michael Bloomberg, Kenney told PGN he views Warren as the transformative candidate needed for this time.

“I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren not only because she is our best and strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, but also because she has the most progressive and all-encompassing vision for America,” Kenney told PGN.

Kenney, himself a strong LGBTQ ally, said, “Her position on LGBTQ issues is unparalleled. She supports passage of the Equality Act —extending civil rights protections to LGBTQ people and amending the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to ensure it can’t be used to discriminate against LGBTQ people. On day one, she will reverse Donald Trump’s misguided and unAmerican policy banning trans Americans from serving in the military.”

Artist, activist and educator AC Dumlao describes themselves as a “queer/bi trans nonbinary first-gen Filipino-American.” Dumlao, who works with the Transgender Legal Defense Fund, explained how “the Warren campaign also reached out to me for a call. For one hour, I talked about the epidemic of Black trans women being murdered, ID docs, healthcare exclusions and more.”

Wakabayashi said, “We’re excited to have opened an office in West Philly to give a home to our grassroots movement for big, structural change. Our staff and volunteers will be in the office and out in the community talking to voters about Elizabeth Warren’s vision of an economy that works for everyone.”

She added, “We welcome anyone that wants to get more involved or find out more about our movement to come out and join us.” Kenney put it succinctly, “Elizabeth Warren is our best hope for the future.” 

Warren for PA is at 533 S. 52nd St. For details of Warren’s LGBTQ platform, visit

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.