An out lesbian running for Congress in the Fifth District was hoping a recent television ad showcasing her wife and children would help her chances in the May 15 primary elections.
Ashley Lunkenheimer finished third in the primary, with lawyer Mary Gay Scanlon claiming victory. Lunkenheimer is a former federal prosecutor as well as one of 10 Democrats who ran for the nomination. She was one of three front-runners, including Richard Lazer, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor and Scanlon.
Her recent televised campaign ad starts with her in the office, talking policy (ban assault weapons, protect Social Security and Medicare). The ad then transitionsedinto the candidate’s life as a wife and mother. Lunkenheimer and her family are seen sitting around a dining-room table eating breakfast together. “My wife and I are raising three kids,” she says in the ad. “I know how Donald Trump’s hatred affects families … All of our kids deserve better.”
Lunkenheimer’s campaign promoted criminal-justice reform, education and affordable healthcare access. The ad is a way to push for more progress for the LGBT community, she said.
“Having a two-mom family with the kids eating breakfast in a commercial playing regularly on one of the largest media markets: that’s something to be proud of.”
More than 1,200 individual donors have contributed to Lunkenheimer’s campaign. Endorsements include state Sen. Connie Williams, the Victory Fund, the Montgomery County Democratic Committee and several Upper Darby Democratic Committee members.
Tweets from Lunkenheimer’s supporters include, “I have a wife too! Representation matters.” Other voters have shared support on her Facebook page, such as: “A lifelong Republican who is ashamed of what his party has become will be voting for you.”
The support was also balanced out with hostility, however: After the release of Lunkenheimer’s ad, an anonymous person sent a three-page hate letter to her home bashing her wife and children. Those sentiments reflected in the YouTube comments of her political ads, where one commenter said that he “feels bad for her children and that they should be embarrassed.”
Lunkenheimer said the hate she has received is the reason she wants a better future for her own and other children.
“I’m trying to make the world a better place for my kids and everyone else’s kids,” she said. “We all need to say that hate is hate and love is love and support each other collectively.”