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When LGBT Stands for "Let's Get By Together"

by: Troy Perry

Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 15:34:18 PM PST

The gathering of hundreds of elected officials from the lesbian and gay community in Long Beach this past weekend for the conference of the Victory Fund is a happy occasion. Southern California voters, especially here in L.A. County, have proved hospitable to LGBT candidates of both parties and helped achieve breakthroughs in representation for openly gay leaders.
Troy Perry :: When LGBT Stands for "Let's Get By Together"
But a few players in gay politics here recently took stances contrary to well-qualified LGBT Democratic candidates and hampered their ability to win. Assembly Speaker John Perez, state Senator-elect Ricardo Lara, and L.A. County Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman, who works for the Speaker, all joined this year in opposing both Westside Democrat Torie Osborn, seeking to represent the 50th Assembly District, and Luis Lopez, an Eastside Democrat running in my 51st Assembly District.

Both were exceptionally well-prepared and strong gay candidates, but both lost, Osborn in a costly June primary and Lopez in a hard-fought general election after becoming the only LGBT candidate from Southern California who would be new to the legislature to compete in the general election. Instead of making the path of these candidates easier, three gay men in positions to help made their road more difficult. How sad.

The strength of L.A.'s diverse electorate is now pulling the state toward one-party governance, putting a brighter public spotlight on Democratic  leaders' conduct. The power of money also tempts elected and party bosses to ignore the bonds of LGBT solidarity that have historically fueled the success of openly gay candidates. The decision by gay officials to turn away from or turn against our own at election time should face a challenge, lest it become an acceptable pattern of behavior that blocks excellent leaders and weakens our movement.

I know the excuses: Party politics are messy, new district lines shook up the landscape for this election, and deals with competing interest groups get made, with survival and self-interest in mind. Still, there's no reason L.A. County, with the largest population of LGBT people and families of any single jurisdiction in the country, shouldn't be sending 4, instead of 2, openly LGBT advocates to Sacramento for swearing-in today.

What lost opportunities, and at what expense! In the Westside district, Speaker Perez amassed scores of delegates and spent a fortune to deny Osborn the Democratic party endorsement. Party machinery then squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to anoint its preferred candidate, only to have an independent Democrat, Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom, emerge triumphant.

On the Eastside, in my district where I took part in protests 45 years ago that launched the local LGBT freedom movement, I was excited by the prospect of electing Luis Lopez. I have known Lopez for years and admired his mix of elected and appointed community service and leadership in the LGBT community, working to start the first Latino statewide gay political group and fighting Prop 8. But outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate and union money on behalf of a candidate who just moved into the district, Lopez lost out to a guy who will be the third in a row of recently arrived candidates, now making his debut in our community as ... Assemblymember. When machine politics calls the shots, knowledge of one's district is no requirement for the job.

I support the Victory Fund and am glad they held their conference here in California. And I hope that when Perez, Lara, or Bauman talk to people in the LGBT community, listeners apply the asterisk, indicating that some exceptions may apply when they say "we" and talk about the strength of "our community."

I am proud of the gains by LGBT candidates in this election. I just wish there were a few more here at home.

Rev. Troy Perry is founder of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 and a plaintiff in the marriage cases seeking full recognition for thousands of committed same-sex couples under California law, including his own union, with husband Phillip De Blieck.

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LGBT Let's Get By Together (0.00 / 0)
Thank you Rev. Perry.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  First, though, I feel compelled to share that way back when I was young and coming out and accepting myself and rejecting the Catholic Church (still do) and any religious organization (more open now, as are they, thanks in part to you), you carved a different path through a never before explored wilderness to show that a church can be accepting, even if I wasn't listening at the time.

But as to the subject here, I also live in District 51, for 5 years now, after 30+ in San Francisco.  Unlike you, I did not know Luis Lopez.  I first read about him in the sample ballot in the June primary election.  The more I read I felt like I needed a reality check - was I really living in LA in 2012 or did I unknowingly slip into a time machine back to SF circa 197?  

So for the first time since, I found myself walking precincts and attending fundraisers for an openly gay progressive candidate tuned into the grassroots and involved in community organizations in this district for the betterment of all, and organizing against Prop 8 in East LA, no less.  Harvey would be so proud.

This election reminded me so much of that era - grassroots community minded openly gay candidates having to be insurgents against the liberal Democratic gay establishment.  "It's My Turn" is great for Diana Ross and personal growth and fulfillment, not politics.  There is or should be no line for annointments.  

I'd like to think that St. Harvey will turn these misguided self-absorbed power hungry hyocrites away one day from entering the ultimate Kingdom, but I know it doesn't work that way.  Rather, they will see in their day in this life here on earth that what they have wrought is not progress or accomplishment but cynicism and self interest, not progress for all in the community but a few crumbs for the powers that be and more dysfunction that will in time turn more against their old autocratic ways.

Harvey did not win the first or even the 2nd election; and no doubt, if they are willing, Torie and Luis will have their day, and so will our community, a concept of which these alleged misguided leaders know nothing about.  

You don't need me to bless you, you are already blessed.  In gratitude and the ongoing struggle,

Brock Evans

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