July 14, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 28
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Saturday, Dec 05, 2020



Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Why a Gay candidate matters
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

I want to stray from the normal tone of my column this week to talk about something important. I don't do it often enough for you to complain, so read on.

In Washington State's 43rd legislative district, a tradition has developed: the election of Gay candidates to represent the Gay community in the state House of Representatives. With the departure of openly Gay Rep. Ed Murray, who is trying for a run in the state Senate, this tradition is now up in the air while a rush of six candidates tries to grab the open seat. Only one of these candidates is Gay.

Many folks in the community - including local journalists - have said that it doesn't matter if the candidate for the 43rd district is Gay. These folks believe that if the candidate fights for marriage equality and believes in the principles of fair treatment for all, it shouldn't matter what sexual orientation they are. After all, they say, there are many other reasons to vote for a candidate besides whether or not they are Gay - education, health care, transportation; but although these issues are important, the 43rd district is as varied as any other district on how to respond to any of these things. We are not a district of people who agrees to a solution to these problems, but this is still the Gayest district in our state. Without our Gay voice speaking for our Gay community, we become just another avoidable issue to sideline. We become people who are talked about instead of people doing our own talking. Having a Gay face in the House of Representatives has put our issues front and center and it should stay that way.

You might have heard of Jamie Pedersen's work as a lawyer for Lambda Legal, leading the charge in fighting for our community every chance he's had: in courtrooms, at rallies, in response to heinous crimes against our community. He has been the steady voice of our community for years, a strong leader with a strong personal connection to the community he is seeking to represent. He is a born leader and he represents the very best of our community.

When Cal Anderson became the first openly Gay lawmaker in this state, he set an example. When Ed Murray continued this and expanded it to create an awareness of Gay issues simply by his presence, he created a tradition. If Jamie Pedersen is chosen as our candidate, we can be sure this tradition will continue and grow. We can be sure we will not be sidelined.

Simply including a good grade on Gay rights as part of a progressive checklist for candidates is not enough to achieve our equality goals - we must have our own unavoidable voices and faces in the House speaking and leading for our issues and refusing to be ignored. We have an opportunity now to keep this tradition alive and I believe we should take it.

We'll continue with our regularly scheduled frivolity next week, but in the meantime, think about it.

Beau Burriola is a local registered Queer voter. Email him at
visit Beau at

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