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Elizabeth Warren Is the Only Massachusetts Senatorial Candidate Who Hasn’t Stated a Position on LGBT Issues (updated)

We may be a year away from the 2012 general elections, but the race for the U. S. Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) has been in full swing since Elizabeth Warren officially announced her candidacy in September.

A superstar of consumer advocacy, Warren has swiftly eclipsed her Democratic rivals and has even surpassed Sen. Brown 43-39 in a recent poll of registered voters. It seems likely that Elizabeth Warren will become the Democratic nominee for Senate.

That Warren could become such a solid candidate in Massachusetts without first outlining her views on civil rights is disturbing. Civil rights are nowhere to be seen on her list of priorities. And considering that the next junior senator from Massachusetts is certain to be voting on legislation directly impacting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, it is more than disappointing that a candidate described as progressive would remain silent on LGBT legislative issues.

Below the fold are each of the candidates’ position statements on LGBT issues, as posted on their campaign websites. Since Elizabeth Warren hasn’t posted anything LGBT-specific on her website (nor can I find any quotes from any news source), I placed a call to her campaign office today to ask for a statement. Unfortunately all I got was the answering machine, so I’ll update this post if I hear back.

UPDATE 12/3: Kyle Sullivan, spokesperson for the Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts campaign has responded to my query, saying he’ll provide a more formal and detailed response “in the coming days”. In the mean time, he stated that “I can tell you from hearing Elizabeth talk about these issues that she supports marriage equality, supports repeal of DOMA, and agreed with repeal of DADT. She also supports ENDA and believes strongly that LGBT individuals should have their rights protected.” This is an encouraging development and I look forward to being able to post a direct quote from the candidate herself and linking readers to the source on the campaign’s web page.

[More below the fold.]

U. S. Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts)

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

Massachusetts state Rep. Tom Conroy (D, 13th Middlesex)

Marriage Equality

In perhaps his most important vote in his first year in the Massachusetts legislature, Tom voted against efforts to put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot in Massachusetts in 2008. If not for victories in 2006 by Tom and five of his pro marriage equality colleagues against opponents of marriage equality, the ballot initiative might have gone forward and reversed the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision approving same-sex marriage.

How Tom will Make a Difference

Tom believes, unlike opponents of marriage equality, who instead support the Defense of Marriage Act, that by definition, marriage is a civil right. He will support efforts to repeal DOMA and advocate that the national government follow the example that Massachusetts has set for marriage equality. He believes that preserving marriage equality, and extending it across the nation, gives more people the opportunity to express their loyalty to each other, honor their commitments, and uphold the values of marriage.

Marisa DeFranco, Immigration Attorney (D)

LGBT Rights

I support equal marriage for all and the inclusion of orientation in Title VII, it is decades overdue. Repeal DOMA NOW. Transgender rights for all (we recently had a great victory here in Massachusetts, but a person’s civil rights should not depend on the vagaries of state law—state by state is too slow, we need action on the federal level). I have represented lesbian and gay individuals in discrimination and asylum claims, winning an important case this year for a gay man from Uganda who fled persecution under their abominable laws.

Herb Robinson, Engineer (D)

Gay and Lesbian

I have a number of gay and lesbian friends who I want to keep as friends. This means that I support equal rights for gays and lesbians. That includes gay marriage and gays in the military.

Elizabeth Warren, Law Professor (D)


Conroy, DeFranco and Robinson are clearly LGB allies, but it is painfully obvious that only Marisa DeFranco mentioned transgender rights. And nobody mentioned the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), arguably the most important piece of LGBT legislation pending in Congress and completely in-line with the nation’s focus on jobs and the economy. Clearly, more advocacy work needs to be done with all of these candidates.

That Elizabeth Warren is widely considered to be a progressive but is the only candidate who hasn’t taken a position on LGBT issues leads one to wonder whether the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee might be advising her to stay quiet. What is certain is that she has a great opportunity here to learn from her opponents’ deficiencies and really come out swinging solidly for civil rights. But to be meaningful, it needs to happen now.

Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer