It’s nice to live in Massachusetts, where we’ve enjoyed the right to legally wed for 10 years. It’s also nice to be in Boston, where we’ve enjoyed the benefits of the political leadership of Mayor Tom Menino, easily the most pro-LGBT big city mayor in the country, for 20 years.
As the city is poised to elect a new mayor, the technical term for what we’re experiencing is called “embarrassment of riches.” In some ways, if you are making your decision about who to vote for on Tuesday, November 5 based solely on LGBT issues, this will be a tough decision. Both candidates have taken leadership roles in legislative efforts impacting our communities.
As a state legislator during the height of the civil marriage battle, state Rep. Marty Walsh not only voted to keep a question that would have amended the state constitution off of a statewide ballot, he rounded up and tracked votes for MassEquality, which ran the marriage equality campaign. His support, as a socially moderate Catholic lawmaker from Dorchester, was critical.
As a state lawmaker today, he is a cosponsor of important legislative initiatives including a bill that would make the state’s anti-bullying law stronger; a bill that would increase resources for homeless youth (up to 40 percent of whom are LGBT); and a measure that would mandate training for health aides in how to provide culturally competent care to LGBT elders. He also publicly supports a fourth, the Transgender Equal Access Bill, which would extend civil rights protections to transgender people in public places. And Walsh’s campaign plan related to LGBT issues is impressively detailed.
But when you drill down to the details, we like John Connolly for mayor. First and foremost, when you look at the civil rights issue still left on the table—full legal rights for transgender people—you can do something with Connolly that’s rare among politicians: you can take his support for granted.
In 2011, when advocates working to gather support for the Transgender Equal Rights Bill had to lobby Walsh to make sure he was on board, Connolly was busy saying yes to every request made of him by advocates looking for public support for the bill. He was one of the few Boston City Councilors to offer testimony for a critical hearing on the bill before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Connolly also led efforts (along with City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley) in 2009 and 2011 to pass resolutions by the city council supporting state legislation to enact rights for transgender people
Connolly used to march in the parade until he asked his staff about it and was told that it was the one day of the year that they were embarrassed to work for him. Walsh marches in the parade every year but says that if he is elected mayor he will stop marching.
Yes, it’s a parade. No, it’s not the critical issue of the day. But leadership matters.
At the end of the day, we think Connolly will offer the leadership we’re looking for and the leadership that the city needs. That’s why we encourage voters in Boston to support John Connolly for mayor on Tuesday, November 5.