2016 is an important election year. The Presidential election is front and center in the battle for LGBT equality. This is only the second election where either party, the Democrats, have officially supported LGBT rights as a party. The Republicans are equally mobilized to reverse the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality decision and President Obama’s executive orders. In addition, the First Amendment Defense Act is before the United States Congress and a Senate Bill introduced by Ted Cruz that will reverse the Supreme Courts 2015 Marriage Equality decision.
Sacramento has two important city council elections a new mayor and the re-election of the city’s first openly gay city council person Steve Hansen. Darrel Steinberg is running for Mayor of Sacramento, with an extensive record of support for the LGBT community in the California State legislature (Steinberg). Mariko Yamada is also running for state Senate in California after terming out in the Assembly, her record includes multiple years of consecutive 100% ratings by EQCA.
Sacramento’s Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest group of official Democrats and the LGBT Political Action Committee (PAC) has endorsed all three candidates, Steve Hansen as the 2016 Priority candidate (Stonewall). District 7 U.S. Congressman Ami Bera is also running for re-election, a strong supporter of LGBT equality in a highly competitive and challenged Congressional re-election campaign. He was named at the most vulnerable candidate in the Democrat’s Congressional seats (Bera).
Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by the two largest LGBT political organizations in the country. Equality California (EQCA) endorsed Clinton in 2015 and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) endorsed her in 2016 (HRC, HRC). She has a long record of supporting equality internationally at the United Nations as Secretary of State, domestically as Senator of New York, and currently LGBT rights are a primary issue in her campaign. It is necessary that 2016 is a year a pro equality President is elected to maintain President Obama’s pro-equality executive orders, sign pro-equality legislation, and appoint pro-equality justices to the multiple Supreme Court seats that are expected to open in the next Presidential term.
Kristen Beck, transgender, a former U.S. Navy Seal lost in the House of Representatives in the Democratic Primary in the 5th Congressional District to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Limiting the diversity of the House of Representatives and LGBT representation (Washington Blade).
Republican candidate Mark Kirk received an endorsement from Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in 2016 for Senator of Illinois as the first Republican Senator to co-sponsor the Equality Act (HRC.org). He joined Illinois Republican Representative Bob Dold earlier this year. HRC chose to endorse Kirk because of his consistent support of equality, voting twice against the Federal Marriage Amendment, for voting for HIV funding, and co-sponsoring the Equality Act (HRC.org).
The Equality Act is the Federal Bill introduced to the U.S. Congress last year that would provide non-discrimination protections to LGBT people nationwide similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though HRC has received criticism for endorsing a Republican candidate, it is true to the message of Executive Director Chad Griffin, who often speaks of building coalitions and bipartisan support. Most legislators who support the Equality Act recognize there is a significant amount of ground work and coalition building that needs to be done before the law or a similar bill will pass both houses of Congress.