While anticipation mounts for the 2020 presidential election, there are candidates for offices across the country who could start making an impact this year.
Those at LGBTQ Victory Fund — the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office — are onboard with those 2019 hopefuls.
“While many in the political world are preparing for 2020, including the team here at LGBTQ Victory Fund, we will not overlook this year’s elections and the state and local LGBTQ candidates who can make an enormous impact on equality in their communities,” said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president/CEO of Victory Fund.
The organization has endorsed 19 new, openly LGBTQ candidates for the 2019 U.S. election cycle in races including mayor, city council and state legislature throughout the nation, including some in the Greater Philadelphia area.
“We are the only organization that only supports LGBTQ candidates, and the only organization that engages at every level on the ballot,” Parker said. “We don’t normally take policy positions, save for being officially pro-choice, and full trans-inclusive,” she said.
Parker added it’s not enough to just be openly LGBTQ or be a straight ally to get a Victory Fund nod.
“You can’t ever deny who you are. We declined our support from one out candidate who wasn’t fully trans-inclusive,” she said.
Parker and her staff examine each race and each candidacy with thoroughness and focus, with checkups within each voting area. “We want to know how much money they are raising, and what kind of campaign each candidate is running.”
Last year, more than 700 out LGBTQ candidates ran for office across the United States. Parker said Victory Fund intersected with more than 400 of those candidates and made endorsements in 274 races.
“This year will be even busier,” Parker said. “Our candidates have to be good investments for those who care about politics.”
In Philadelphia, the Fund is endorsing three judicial candidates: Wade Albert, Tiffany Palmer and Henry Sias, all of whom are running for judgeships on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas as Democrats in the May 21 primary.
“I was honored to have been endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund,” said Palmer. “I’m grateful to be recognized for my extensive record advocating for LGBTQ rights cases for the past 20 years. I hope to be elected in May and serve the public as an openly LGBTQ judge in Philadelphia. It is so important for our society to have diverse representation in all branches of government.”
Albert said Victory Fund has endorsed “quality candidates” in the past and that he is pleased to be considered in that league. “It is an awesome experience,” Albert said. “As a gay man, I hope this endorsement speaks to what I have put into this community over the years, and that I am able to win.”
But, what about those Philly candidates who do fully support and work hard for LGBTQ rights and issues and miss getting a nod from the Victory Fund?
“We appreciate allies,” Parker said. “We don’t succeed nationwide without allies, but, our mission is to support those members of the LGBTQ community running for, or already in, office.”
Attorney Beth Grossman, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Philadelphia District Attorney against Larry Krasner in 2017, also is running for a judgeship in May. Grossman said she is a huge advocate of all LGBTQ rights and issues, and that she doesn’t begrudge any LGBTQ candidate support of any kind.
“I can’t emphasize my support enough, and am glad things have changed for the Human Relations Commission, although dealing with Harrisburg is another matter,” she said. “Look, I was a prosecutor for nearly 22 years. When you see people victimized due to sexual orientation and gender identification, it’s upsetting.”
Grossman knows that if she wins her judgeship for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, at-Large, that she won’t get to pick her jurisdiction. But if she has her druthers, she would choose juvenile court.
“I think one of the most vulnerable populations is LGBTQ youth because they face issues of homelessness and are subject to trafficking. There is so much trauma and need in those courtrooms.”
Philadelphia criminal attorney Gregory Weyer is running for a judgeship for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, at-Large. He’s straight, married and thoroughly supports all forms of LGBTQ rights. He doesn’t feel bad that the Victory Fund won’t look to him with their support.
“Every organization has their own position as to who they want to endorse,” he said. “You get support where you get it, and I’m not upset that I didn’t have access to Victory Fund support. As a criminal attorney and a foster dad, I might have access to endorsements others might not. As long as it doesn’t get to a point of slamming all non-LGBTQ candidates, it’s all fair.”
Weyer considers himself an ally to the LGBTQ community, and believes the law needs to work for everyone, gay and straight alike. “Everyone deserves dignity.”