The following is an op-ed I wrote for the Washington Blade. It was published on Friday. It will also be distributed to the Swish Edition on Monday.
I had the pleasure of attending the Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch last week. It was a day of firsts. It was my first time going, and it was their first time at the Washington Hilton. They were celebrating their 20th anniversary. There was a wonderful performance to start the day from the D.C. Cowboys. The speeches were good and not too long. And thanks to David Perruzza and JR.’s, the Champagne was definitely flowing. It was indeed a great afternoon of celebration.
The work that the Victory Fund does is important. We need more gays and lesbians serving in elective office. We need to build leaders who today will run for the city councils and state houses so that tomorrow, they can run for governor, Congress and even the White House.
Victory Fund endorses candidates who have gone through a vetting process to ensure that the candidate has a serious campaign and that they’ve demonstrated a real path to electoral success. There are not many, but Victory Fund does endorse a few Republicans each cycle.
Their mission is simple: “To change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBT Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBT officials at all levels of government.”
However if you look closer, in a bit of mission creep, they add in a few caveats that are limiting. They almost always endorse pro-choice candidates. In fact, to my knowledge, they’ve only endorsed one pro-lifer in recent history — Dan Hill, who ran for the General Assembly in Nevada last year.
Now this column is not intended to start a discussion about abortion. Let’s save that for another day. But is it wise to couple being gay with being pro-choice? Of course not. Although it is true that the inspiration to create the Victory Fund comes from EMILY’S List, that’s where the similarities should end.
In limiting the scope of their field, Victory Fund risks circumventing its very own mission – electing more out LGBT people to office.
While abortion is a very important issue to many in the LGBT community, it is not, nor should it be, what defines us. The one thing that should define us is our goal to bring full equality to all LGBT Americans.
What would be next in this mission creep? Only supporting out gay and lesbian pro-choice candidates who are pro-union, left-handed, recycle and support federal funding for National Public Radio? Now that’s just silly.
Unlike other national organizations in our communities with big budgets, Victory Fund has done a good job showing that it’s not a political arm of the Democratic National Committee.
But it needs to understand that being pro-life is not bad for the gay cause. And what would happen if science were to ever discover the “gay gene?” Would everyone in the community suddenly become pro-life so parents don’t abort babies who have “it?” Again, silly.
My message to Victory Fund is simple: Get rid of the pro-abortion plank in your vetting process and move on. Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund’s executive director, said it best at the Sunday brunch about the type of people we need to help get elected: “Not just out candidates, but outstanding candidates.” Some of them just might be pro-life. And that should be OK. There should not be a litmus test other than being out and proud and having a credible campaign with a chance of success. That’s the winning ticket.