Out and on your ballot: LGBTQ candidates

By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly

In the midst of many highly divisive and heated electoral races — many of which cause members of the queer community consternation — one thing concretely shows how far the LGBTQ people have come in the political realm: the 2012 ballot has one of the highest number of openly queer people running for offices on the national and state levels of any previous election. Here, we provide a space for some of the openly LGBTQ candidates who will be appearing on ballots to give a statement for the readers of PQ Monthly. While these are not to be taken as endorsements of the candidates or their platforms, PQ presents these statements in honor of the members of the LGBTQ community who put themselves under the spotlight of the political process in order to enact change for their communities and the world. Want to sound off on the platforms and share your thoughts on the candidates? Join (or start) the community discussion in the comments section, and watch our blog for statements from numerous other candidates and ongoing coverage of the 2012 election.

Kate Brown, Secretary of State

Kate Brown

“I have been your Secretary of State for four years, and today, I ask for your support so I can continue to be your watchdog: finding savings and efficiencies in state government, fighting fraud in Oregon’s citizen initiative process, and defending Oregon from the right-wing war on voting that is gaining attention in states across the country.

I also ask for your vote this November so I can continue to be your advocate. As a state legislator, I am most proud of our work to pass the Oregon Equality Act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

I am also proud of our work on domestic partnerships. But to be clear, I can’t wait for Oregon to show that love and commitment are what make a marriage because the only real threat to marriage is when we allow laws to stand between two people who are brave and bold and bonded enough to dedicate their lives to each other.

What got us this far is a progressive instinct. We are less moved by ideology than an innate sense of what is right, what is just and what is fair. This progressive instinct is part of what I love about Oregon and I have great faith that this tradition is alive and well here in Oregon.

With your vote, we can defend the progressive spirit we have created here in Oregon — and keep it moving forward.”


Nena Cook, Oregon Supreme Court

Nena Cook

“I am running for an open seat on the Oregon Supreme Court because I strongly believe that, in order to guarantee integrity in the courts and ensure all Oregonians receive fair and independent justice, we must have a court that is made up of justices who draw from differing and diverse experiences. This experience is exactly what I would bring to the Supreme Court.

My record of service to Oregonians is both broad and deep. I have extensive civil law experience having represented individuals, consumers, businesses, labor unions, and public bodies in court. I bring experience in criminal cases, having worked in the Marion County District Attorney’s office as a certified law student. I also bring appellate experience and have had cases in the Oregon Court of Appeals, the Oregon Supreme Court, and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And, since 2007, I have gained judicial experience serving as a pro tem judge.

My commitment to integrity in the courts goes beyond my professional experience. My family fell on very difficult times when I was a child after my parents divorced, resulting in much-needed help of lawyers to sort through our situation. They were there for me and my family, and that commitment left a lasting and profound impression on me. Through this experience, in my own career, I have a life-long need to continue giving back to my community and ensure all people have fair access to our legal system.

Oregonians are very fair-minded, and I am proud that voters evaluate candidates based on their records and experiences. I am honored to have the support of the LGBT community.”


Christina Lugo, Representative, House District 5 (Pacific Green Party)

Christina Lugo

“I am running for U.S. House of Representatives because I believe that it is important to stand for progressive values like the environment, health care, and peace at a time when the Democrats have abandoned the poor and working classes in America. It is time to end the war in Afghanistan now, time for single-payer health care for all Americans, time to invest in a green energy future to turn us away from the deleterious affects of global climate change. It is time for civil rights for all Americans, including the right to marry and the right to employment nondiscrimination. The Green Party has stood proudly for peace, women’s rights, the environment, and health care for more than 25 years since its founding in Oregon. As a Green and a member of the GLBTQ community, I am running proudly as an advocate for peace and a healthy planet.”


Stephen Durham, President of the United States (Freedom Socialist Party)

Stephen Durham

“I am an openly gay presidential candidate running with Christina López as my vice-presidential running mate. We are campaigning on a socialist feminist platform that addresses all the issues facing the broadest sectors of the LGBT community: homophobia, marriage equality, transgender discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, anti-immigrant prejudice — in addition to the need for jobs, housing, and affordable healthcare. Our campaign slogan is, ‘Vote for the Greater Good Instead of the Lesser Evil.’

I have been out-of-the-closet since the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and a queer activist in the labor, anti-police brutality, feminist, immigrant rights, anti-war, and social justice movements. I became a radical because I adhere to the idea that none of us is free until all of us are free. I am a socialist candidate because I believe the capitalist system is brutal and unjust and is not capable of meeting our needs. Our lives and our futures are knitted together as women, workers, people of color, youth, elders, immigrants, and the disabled as never before. We must use our votes to challenge the political lockdown of the electoral arena by not delivering our votes to the Democrats or Republicans, the twin parties of Big Business. We must strengthen the queer movement and all the social movements and work together in solidarity to create a new system, based on the social sharing of wealth and power.”


Tina Kotek, Representative, House District 44 (Democratic Party)

Tina Kotek

“We’re going to make history in Oregon in 2012. With an evenly split 30-30 House of Representatives, this election will allow Oregonians to choose between two very stark sets of priorities for our state. One will push tax giveaways for the very rich and out of state corporations at the expense of our schools and other services we all rely on.

The other will prioritize education, jobs, and standing up for the middle class. It will protect a woman’s right to make her own private health care decisions without intrusion from politicians. It will defend all that we’ve fought for to protect the civil rights of all Oregonians.

I get up every day to fight for that second vision for Oregon, where every one of us gets a chance to live the life we were meant to live. Between now and Nov. 6, I hope you’ll join me. Please find a candidate who believes in prioritizing equal opportunity and equal rights, and join me in making sure their vision is Oregon’s future.”


Cameron Whitten, State Treasurer

Cameron Whitten

“As a community, we pride ourselves in seeing the big picture. Oregon’s pioneering spirit has put us ahead of the nation, time and time again.

Statistics reveal that $9.5 billion of Oregon’s short term funds are invested into various financial institutions, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. The majority of these funds are located outside of Oregon.

Investment officers travel the world to manage this portfolio, and can charge flight, food, and lodging fees to the treasury. While these investments are intended to provide a rate of return, it is stripping our local economy of capital that should be channeled into small business startups. …

A state bank is a solution to Oregon’s financial hardships. Oregonians deserve a say over how our assets are managed, rather than CEOs who make their decisions miles away from Oregon. … A State Bank of Oregon will employ talented bankers to partner with the private sector, helping local banks lower interest on loans, increase lending capacities, and help entrepreneurs and farmers access the capital they need to grow our economy. …

2012 is the right year to build a coalition around the State Bank of Oregon. As treasurer, I will be at the legislature to encourage bipartisan support for a resilient economy, based on resilient structures that are answerable to the democratic will of the people.”

Kelly Caldwell, EMSWCD Director at Large #1

Kelly Caldwell

“I am running for the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District at Large #1 position.  I am most interested in promoting more organic gardening, reducing pesticides and herbicides, and fighting genetic engineering (GMOs).   I am also active in social justice and environmental activism of many types.

I came out 22 years ago and had a wedding ceremony with my domestic partner Lisa a couple of years ago in Laurelhurst Park.  We are everywhere!”