Thursday, January 03, 2008

strimling for congress

Rarely, if ever, have I discussed political candidates on the slant...it's pretty clear that i'm an issues kinda wonk, and it's even clearer that MY issue is all things LGBT. But today I'm giving an unapologetic and shameless plug to my friend State Senator Ethan Strimling, who is hoping to be the Democratic nominee for the First Congressional District in Maine. There are a million...no, there are a baZILLION reasons why this man is not just getting my vote but also getting some of my time and energy volunteering on his campaign.

Others have done a great job of spelling out Ethan's politics: a good friend of mine wrote a terrific post about Ethan on the Daily Kos and you can read it here. You can also go to Ethan's website for more information...www.ethan08.com If you want to know about Ethan's politics, those are two great places to start.

For me...well. It's definitely his politics. And the fact that our world views are essentially identical. But it's also personal. We have a history, Ethan and I. I know him well. And seeing him serve us in Washington...well, there aren't too many other things that would be more fabulous than that.

I met Ethan in 2004—it was a quick handshake in the Maine Senate chamber after being introduced to him by my friend Corey Hascall. (Corey is now Ethan's campaign director; she's a rockstar in her own right and one of the most extraordinarily beautiful creatures I've ever known. The fact that she supports Ethan is, for me, a ringing endorsement about the kind of great man Ethan truly is. ) Ethan & I literally spoke that day for about 2 ½ minutes. Three days later, there was a handwritten note from Ethan in my mailbox telling me how much it meant to him that Corey had found such a supportive friend, and that he looked forward to working with me on LGBT civil rights issues in the future.

That note was the beginning of a terrific friendship and professional relationship.

I’ve been a full-time LGBT activist for four and a half years now, doing grassroots organizing and working on public policy; I spent 6 months as a field organizer for the successful Maine Won’t Discriminate campaign. In that time I’ve been lucky enough to work with Ethan in the statehouse and on the campaign trail, and there just isn’t a more passionate supporter of full LGBT equality than him. He has been my loudest and most faithful cheerleader. And he’s not just talked the talk. He has rolled up his sleeves and worked tirelessly on virtually every civil rights issue that’s made its way to Augusta. He has been our most vocal supporter, and his leadership in Augusta on civil rights issues has been remarkable.

As a leader inside Maine Won't Discriminate, Ethan spent endless hours helping us defeat hate and promote tolerance. As a Board member of the NAACP, he challenged his own community to recognize the changing face of Maine.And as a State Senator he led battles behind the scenes to pass the Civil Rights Act of 2005. He led the charge to provide Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits to domestic partners, and because of his strong support we saw that important bill signed into law this year. He also had the courage to propose that Maine finally repeal our discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that prevents us from recognizing legal marriages from Massachusetts.

What I appreciate most about Ethan is his absolute willingness to speak out about LGBT issues, and to stand beside the LGBT community, inside Augusta and outside of it. He stood beside a handful of us as we silently protested an anti-LGBT rally in Augusta when no other legislator would. It’s a moment I will never ever forget, and one I will always be grateful for. I’ve marched beside him at Pride Parades. I’ve listened to him speak at rallies to promote LGBT equality and acceptance. He has never been afraid to stand with us. In fact, he is proud to do it. You just have to look at his face at these events to know that is true.

I was asked to speak at Ethan's exploratory announcement back in June...and while I don't necessarily like posting a youtube video of ME on the Slant (hate my voice, hate my hair, yadda yadda yadda), I think it captures in 4 minutes why I will stand beside this man through thick and thin. 'Cause it means everything to me to have a Representative in Washington who won’t just vote the right way, but who will fight the good fight for ALL of us, and who will be unafraid to take the lead on civil rights.

And because he has always stood behind me when I needed him, I'm proud to stand behind him.

He's my guy.

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