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State Rep. Patricia Todd on the challenges running for office in Alabama

Openly gay Alabama State Representative Patricia Todd spoke about the challenges she faced to become the state's first out elected official at the Equality NC Conference a couple of weeks ago.

Kate shot footage of her morning keynote. I've not had time to properly edit it, but wanted to get it up so people could hear what Rep. Todd has to say. It's an exciting and disturbing look at how raw politics and homophobia in both parties can and do try to take out gay candidates.

Patricia's speech is below the fold.

From my conference liveblog, a description of her talk:

What is important about her election, is that she never expected to win — her district is majority black, has some of the poorest residents of Birmingham as well as the most affluent. It is also home to the largest out LGBT population.

No one thought she would win, she was a political novice, and her team had no experience; she cites the Victory Fund training was essential in giving them advice and backing. She did say that the one matter they differed on –  the importance of yard signs — she had volunteers working those signs all the way up until election day.

She described the complexities of the race — how the gay issue, while a known factor, actually became less of an issue than the racial issue. It was a huge factor in that her district had long had black representation. Joe Reed, the honcho of the Alabama Democratic Party, a black man, told her in no uncertain terms that this was “our seat” and that she couldn't have it.  Rep. Todd went on black talk radio, which has a liberal base in any other circumstance, tore into her out of fear, with callers asking how a white lesbian can represent our needs, to whether she would work to overturn the state's marriage amendment. She kept the emphasis on how good government mattered most to everyone, and that's why she was running.

There were five candidates in the primary runoff. Two of the black candidates endorsed Patricia Todd over the other top vote getter, Gaynelle Hendricks, a black woman. It was at that time that Joe Reed began a campaign to make this about race, when in every other aspect.

She showed the outrageous flyer that was distributed, showing her with her two black candidate supporters (her “two Uncle Toms). “Ms. Patricia Todd is the one who is a confessed lesbian (bulldigger, homosexual, butch and so on and so on)….Patricia is not one of us. She does not want to be a woman, she is not black and her support is coming from gay and lesbian organizations outside of our community. BEWARE. BEWARE. BEWARE.”

Links:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eyXxuRcutE
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdN0MZE5F2k
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTIXlybQ_RY (this one is an especially good segment)
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BleHRZz8Om8
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wm6HskMqdo
Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcSdYjN3tNE

***

Speaking campaigns, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute is bringing its Candidate & Campaign Training to  Charlotte  Feb. 21-24 at the  Marriott  South  Park.  

The training is for openly LGBT folks who are considering running for elective office, or for those who are planning to work on the campaign of an openly LGBT candidate.  Graduates credit this training with helping them run winning campaigns—even in places where people thought it would be impossible to win. N.C. State Sen. Julia Boseman, Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd,  Arkansas  State  Rep. Kathy Webb, Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, O
klahoma State Rep. Al McAffrey and many other out leaders have gone on to successful political careers after attending one of these trainings. 

 

 

The event is being held inpartnership with Equality NC, and there are 40 slots available for other out folks running for office.  More information can be found at http://www.glli.org/training/candidate_campaign. 

 

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding