Will Congress soon have its first openly gay Republican representative? Many are speculating about the impending political and historical first as two openly gay Republican candidates, Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio, run for seats in Congress.
How would an openly gay Republican Congressman influence the course of history? “In a statement to The Huffington Post, Tisei made the case that the LGBT community needs more allies on the Republican side of the aisle to advance its agenda,” reports Amanda Terkel, of the need for more diverse representation in government as a way to create real, lasting change.
In his statement Tisei explains, “There will never be true equality in this country unless there are people on both sides of the aisle willing to stand up for fairness and equality under the law. […] Clearly the Republican Party needs to evolve on LGBT issues, and I hope to be a catalyst to help move that process further along.”
It’s evident that Tisei is using his ties to the LGBT community as part of his campaign platform, which, political strategy aside, could be a truly good thing if he were elected as Congressman. Other openly gay Republicans like Ken Mehlman have certainly done their part to progress the gay rights movement from a political angle. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), headed by a powerful team including Mehlman, activist and lobbyist Chad Griffin, and Adam Umhoefer, is dedicated to advancing equal rights for all people, and was instrumental in overturning California’s Prop 8.
California’s openly gay Republican Congressional candidate, Carl DeMaio, has been open about his sexual identity, but seems more intent on fiscal reform that social issues. This is a stark difference from Tisei’s strategy, which combines personal transparency with the promise of equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation. In some ways, DeMaio’s approach represents what an equal political playing field should look like: one in which LGBT politicians can focus on all kinds of issues, and not just exist as a token for LGBT rights reform within Congress.
Regardless of each candidate’s political agenda, if DeMaio or Tisei were to earn a seat in Congress, it would be a history-making event that could pave the way for more LGBT people to run for Congress and other governmental or political positions.
Featured Image: Jeffrey Zeldman via Flickr CC