LGBTQ, and in the run­ning

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - FROM THE FRONT PAGE - By Em­i­lie Mun­son

BETHEL — For a host of rea­sons, it was re­peat­edly sug­gested to Raghib Al­lie-Bren­nan that, maybe, he shouldn’t run.

But Al­lie-Bren­nan, 27, is cam­paign­ing for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive for a sec­ond time. He’s a com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer with a pas­sion for en­ergy pol­icy and an ex­u­ber­ance punc­tu­ated by a con­stel­la­tion of freck­les. He is also a gay man.

“We are not gay can­di­dates, we are can­di­dates that hap­pen to be gay,” Al­lie-Bren­nan said at an LGBTQ Day of Ac­tion in Bethel on Sat­ur­day.

Al­lie-Bren­nan is one of 10 LGBTQ can­di­dates run­ning for Con­necti­cut’s Gen­eral Assem­bly in 2018. No­tably, six LGBTQ Re­pub­li­cans are now seek­ing spots in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, whereas the GOP cur­rently has no openly gay state leg­is­la­tors.

Con­necti­cut has only two openly gay law­mak­ers, state Sen. Beth Bye of West Hart­ford and Rep. Jeff Cur­rey of East Hart­ford, both of them Democrats who are seek­ing re-elec­tion. Al­lie-Bren­nan is the only LGBTQ Demo­cratic chal­lenger.

State comptroller Kevin Lembo, also a Demo­crat seek­ing re-elec­tion, was Con­necti­cut’s first openly gay statewide of­fi­cial and is the only LGBTQ statewide can­di­date.

LGBTQ Re­pub­li­cans seek­ing of­fice in­clude Se­nate can­di­dates Mary Fay of West Hart­ford and Robert Smed­ley of New Bri­tain, as well as House can­di­dates Shaun Mas­troianni of Ston­ing­ton, Ken Richards of Gro­ton, John Scott of Mys­tic and A.J. Ker­ouac of Brook­lyn, Conn.

“The fact that I am a gay man is old news. My hus­band and I have been mem­bers of this com­mu­nity for 20 years,” said Scott, who was a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive from 2014 to 2016, when he lost his seat. “We’ve never been dis­crim­i­nated against.”

Scott and Richards spent Sat­ur­day cam­paign­ing to­gether at the Gro­ton Fall Fes­ti­val. They agreed that their sex­u­al­ity was not a de­cid­ing fac­tor be­hind their run for of­fice — their pri­mary con­cerns was the econ­omy.

“My taxes kept go­ing up, and it was harder and harder for my hus­band and I to stay here,” said Richards, an am­bu­lance ad­min­is­tra­tor, whose hus­band is in the U.S. Navy.

Some of Richards’ LGBTQ friends back his cam­paign, but oth­ers can’t stom­ach the Re­pub­li­can party, he said.

“It’s the stigma of the Re­pub­li­can party: that we’re anti-gay, anti-women, anti-ev­ery­thing,” Richards said. “One of the parts that I am try­ing to push as a can­di­date is that times are chang­ing. We have to change (the GOP) from within.”

Ac­cord­ing to the LGBTQ Vic­tory Fund, a non­par­ti­san group that tracks, sup­ports and trains LGBTQ can­di­dates and al­lies, there are 577 LGBTQ elected of­fi­cials to­tal na­tion­wide. This year, 425 LGBTQ can­di­dates are seek­ing of­fice at the lo­cal, state and na­tional lev­els — an in­crease from pre­vi­ous years — the group said.

“LGBTQ peo­ple are se­verely un­der­rep­re­sented at ev­ery level of govern­ment – hold­ing just 0.1 per­cent of elected po­si­tions na­tion­wide – and there are only five known LGBTQ elected of­fi­cials in all of Con­necti­cut,” said El­liot Imse, se­nior di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Fund. “While Con­necti­cut is largely sup­port­ive of its LGBTQ pop­u­la­tion in terms of at­ti­tudes and laws, it re­mains im­por­tant to have LGBTQ voices in the halls of power to en­sure our per­spec­tives are part of the con­ver­sa­tion.”

When Lembo ran for comptroller in 2010, he con­ducted polling to see if vot­ers would sup­port a gay can­di­date, he said.

“The re­sults came back and they were so heart­en­ing, be­cause it did not mat­ter a lick to peo­ple,” Lembo said. “What re­ally mat­tered — to the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple, not peo­ple on the fringe, but I don’t spend too much time think­ing of them — was what is your ex­pe­ri­ence, what is your cre­den­tial and what is your plan.”

In Bethel Sat­ur­day, he and Cur­rey ral­lied sup­port for Al­lie-Bren­nan be­fore a day of phone-bank­ing and door-knock­ing be­gan.

“When you meet some­one who has been through strug­gle and they come through on the other side, you know they are will­ing to work through and strug­gle on your be­half as well,” said Lembo.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Raghib Al­lie-Bren­nan, cen­ter, a Demo­crat run­ning for the state House in the 2nd Dis­trict, held a LGBTQ day of ac­tion with State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, right, and Julie Kush­ner, run­ning for State Se­nate in the 24th dis­trict, on Sat­ur­day in Bethel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.