March 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Sexual Orientation ‘Nonissue’ on Campaign Trail

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Kyrsten Sinema, who is openly bisexual and a top candidate in the Democratic primary in Arizona’s 9th district, said her prospective constituents don’t care about her sexuality.

A gay candidate for Congress walks into a bar. No joke: Nothing happens.

A record number of openly gay candidates are running for Congress this cycle, and the reaction, among a huge swath of voters, has been a collective yawn.

Its really becoming a nonissue, Democratic consultant Steve Elmendorf explained. If you look at a lot of these districts where people are running, the fact that they are gay is not really that important to the campaign.

All across the country, serious contenders for Congress who are openly gay Democratic and Republican said their sexual identity plays almost no role in their election efforts.

No one cares, said Kyrsten Sinema, who is openly bisexual and a top candidate in the Democratic primary in Arizonas 9th district. Its about my history of work in the district. ... They dont care three straws about the other stuff.

Other openly gay challenger candidates with a real shot of coming to Congress include: Sean Patrick Maloney, taking on freshman Rep. Nan Hayworth (R) in New Yorks 18th district; Mark Pocan (D), running in Wisconsins open 2nd district; Mark Takano (D), running for Californias new 41st district; and Richard Tisei (R), taking on Rep. John Tierney (D) in Massachusetts 6th district. There are at least four other openly gay Congressional candidates this year, according to a count from the pro-LGBT-equality Human Rights Campaign, but all are long shots in states such as Idaho.

Tisei, who could very well become the only openly gay Republican Member of the 113th Congress, said that while his sexual orientation gets a lot of national media attention, voters are focused on other things, such as the economy.

It hasnt come up at all in any way, really, in any conversations Ive had with voters, Tisei said, noting that Massachusetts has had legal gay marriage for eight years.

Pocan agreed that the fact that he is openly gay is something that he rarely, if ever, hears about on the trail.

Given Im running to succeed Tammy Baldwin, as you can imagine, its pretty much a nonissue, he said.

Baldwin, a lesbian, is running for Senate, while Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank (D), who recently married his longtime partner, is retiring.

Still, members of the LBGT community are hopeful about increasing their ranks in Congress and across all levels of government.

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?