CommunityPam's House Blend

Alabama may have elected its first openly gay legislator

Hell has frozen over, huh? This is amazing news (hat tip to Kathy of Birmingham Blues for the update) about Patricia Todd, who just may have won the House District 54 runoff race in Birmingham. Cross your fingers, because the win is slim (59 votes!) and provisional ballots are being tabulated today.

With 100 percent of boxes reporting Tuesday, the unofficial count showed Todd had 1,173 votes, or 51 percent, to Hendricks’ 1,114, or 49 percent. Hendricks had held a large lead earlier in the evening and appeared to be heading to victory, but Todd moved narrowly into the lead as late votes were counted. The final outcome of the race may not be certain until election officials count provisional ballots on Wednesday.

While we were down in Birmingham last weekend, I asked Kate to drive me around one of the known gay-friendly areas there, Crestwood (it has its own Pride Parade), to take a look. Patricia Todd lawn signs were everywhere. It gives you hope.

UPDATE: The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has a release up…

Patricia Todd made history Tuesday when voters in Alabama’s 54th legislative district voted to send the Democrat to the State House, marking the first time ever that legislature will include an openly gay Representative. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian political action committee, endorsed Todd and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars from its national network of donors to help fund her campaign. Todd has no Republican opponent in the general election in November.

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Denis Dison of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute sent this pic in of Patricia Todd with Victory Fund staffers: Meighan Mahaffey, Patricia Todd, Brett Johnson, Jason Mida.

“The road to equality in Alabama is a mile shorter today,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “Gays and lesbians in Alabama will now have what all Americans deserve — a voice and a vote. Alabama knows well what a single voice can accomplish. We applaud Patricia’s courage in stepping up to be heard,” Wolfe said.


And in equally interesting ‘Bama news, political newcomer Luther Strange defeated Alabama Public Service Commissioner George Wallace Jr., in the GOP vote for lieutenant governor.

Wallace, the only son of Governors George and Lurleen Wallace, began making speeches for his father when 6 years old and spent 16 years in elective office. But when the 54-year-old candidate conceded Tuesday night, he indicated the days of following in his parents’ footsteps are over.

…Strange, a 53-year-old lawyer and lobbyist from Mountain Brook, was making his first race for public office, and he said voters liked it. “People really want to see change in Montgomery. The fact I’m not part of the Montgomery establishment and have not held office before is an advantage for me,” Strange said at a victory party in Birmingham.

Another famous name in Alabama politics is next up for Strange. Folsom, the son of two-time Gov. James E. “Big Jim” Folsom, said he will run on his accomplishments as lieutenant governor and governor, including recruiting the Mercedes auto plant to the state. Folsom said the race will be “about what is best for the average Alabamians, not the special interests.”

Wallace sadly didn’t fall too far from his father’s political tree. last year he welcomed the delegates of the “uptown Klan“, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) to its convention, saying “There is nothing hateful about those people I’ve seen.”

Why he felt the need to suck up to the bigots, even in Alabama, makes no sense if you want to garner votes. However, his hysteria over undocumented workers on the campaign’s Issues page is a sign of the Wallace times.

* Skies brighten a bit for gays in Alabama

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding