Five Reasons why LGBT Activists Endorse Tammy Duckworth

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 9.49.06 AMDemocratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is running against incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk, to represent Illinois in the United States Senate.  In the face of a senseless endorsement of the Republican by a prominent LGBT organization, leaders and activists have expressed outrage, and are now calling for the support of Representative Duckworth.

Following her career as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, Duckworth worked as an advocate for Veterans at both the state and federal level. In  2012 she was elected to the House of Representatives. Despite her 100% pro LGBT score by the Human Right Campaign (HRC), for reasons that make no sense to many of us, HRC has endorsed Kirk, ahead of Duckworth for the Senate seat.

Here are five top reasons elucidating why we should all support and endorse Tammy Duckworth and not Senator Mark Kirk for the Illinois Senate seat:

1) Democrats need to win back the Senate:
2) LGBT issues:
3) Women in the Senate:
Trusting a Democrat to be progressive rather than a Republican:
5) Not trusting a Human Rights Campaign endorsement:

1) Democrats need to win back the Senate:
Tammy Duckworth will help push the Senate toward the crucial Democratic Party majority. We must win back the Senate majority for the Democratic Party for many obvious reasons. We cannot attain important progressive legislation without a majority in the Senate and will again be set up for further legislative obstructionism, a hallmark of Republican politics. This includes much more than that which is just overtly LGBT related.

A Senate with a Democratic Party majority will help establish the agenda for the Senate and be more likely to result in a Senate responsive to hearings for SCOTUS judicial appointments, immigration reform, women’s issues and also pursuit of the Equality Act which is the only way LGBTQI people will ever secure full equal rights in the USA.

Michelangelo Signorile Queer Voices Editor-at-Large, for Huffington Post notes: “Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican whose defeat in November is critical to the Democrats winning back control of the Senate.”

2) LGBT issues:
Tammy Duckworth has stood for LGBT equality. She participated in NoH8 Day to bring awareness to LGBT rights.  She has
pushed for total equality for the LGBT community. Duckworth, has a score of 100 from The Human Rights Campaign on their LGBT issues index, whereas her opponent Mark Kirk,  has only earned a score of 78 percent. Duckworth opposed defining traditional marriage.

Quote Tammy Duckworth Campaign Nov 2012: “The LGBT community is entitled to the same rights afforded to everyone else. While I was recovering at Walter Reed after being shot down in Iraq, my husband Bryan was at my bedside every day, and made the correct choices for me when I could not. I support the freedom to marry because everyone deserves the same level of access, support and love. As a Member of Congress, I will work tirelessly to support the LGBT community and push for total equality.”

3) Women in the Senate:
There are only 20 women in the Senate at this time, and 40 men.  Duckworth is a woman and Kirk is a man. For the sake of fairness and parity,  we must fight to have as many qualified women in the Senate as there are qualified men. So when an opportunity such as this arises,  we must support parity of gender first and foremost.  We have a long way to go for women to feel truly represented in our Congress:

Throughout most of the Senate’s history, that legislative chamber has been almost entirely male. Until 1920, few women ran for the Senate. Until the 1990s, very few were elected. This paucity of women was due to many factors, including the lack of women’s suffrage in many states until ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, women’s limited access to higher education until the mid-1900s, public perception of gender roles, and barriers to women’s advancement such as sex discrimination, which still plays a factor in their limited numbers today.

Duckworth is endorsed by the Feminist Majority on women’s rights indicating a pro-women’s rights stance. The Feminist Majority had endorsed Duckworth for the U.S. House and has now just confirmed to me in an email that they are updating their website to reflect that they are also endorsing Duckworth for the U.S. Senate:

“Our mission is to empower feminists, who are the majority, and to win equality for women at the decision-making tables of the state, nation, and the world. The Feminist Majority promotes non-discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity, age, marital status, nation of origin, size or disability. The purpose of Feminist Majority is to promote equality for women and men, non-violence, reproductive health, peace, social justice and economic development and to enhance feminist participation in public policy. Feminist Majority supports workers’ collective bargaining, pay equity, and end of sweatshops. We encourage programs directed at the preservation of the environment.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.29.33 PM

4) Trusting a Democrat to be progressive rather than a Republican:
 Duckworth’s progressive votes are safe, but Kirk’s may waver, by virtue of party affiliation. Whereas a Democrat is more likely to be solid in their progressive ideals, a Republican, who adopts some progressive policies, perhaps for purposes of election pandering in a Blue State, may veer away from campaign promises if pressured by his party.

To trust a Republican to maintain a position when it negates his party platform, is risky.   I do not believe Kirk’s votes to be guaranteed progressive.  It would certainly  be easier to sway a Republican, through party affiliation,  in situations where a Democrat will be unwavering in a vote. I do not trust a Republican with any progressive vote: An example of an untenable past vote by Kirk is the fact he voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent.

Like Kirk, Duckworth is rated 100% by NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Its is difficult for me to reconcile how someone like Kirk, who seems to have asserted a strong pro choice stance and now a pro LGBT stance,  can align himself with a Party that has such an abhorrent platform and reputation pertaining to a women’s right to choose and equality related issues.

Duckworth voted YES on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. She supports equal pay for women and she can be trusted to remain consistent on LGBTQ issues, as it is her party platform.

5) Not trusting a Human Rights Campaign endorsement:
Human Rights Campaign has disappointed grassroots activists and many in the LGBTQI leadership on a myriad of issues. The following cryptic reflection elucidates why I, for one, cannot trust HRC’s thinking on their endorsement of Mark Kirk:

a. Controversial on Trans issues for years. There have been many issues over the years.
Many believe HRC lied to the Trans community when from 2005-2007 when  HRC promised it would never support an ENDA that excluded transgender people—and then soon thereafter did the opposite.

Another example: In a protest against HRC by 1AOL Coal Delivery” it was noted: “…….despite HRC’s 50 Million dollar plus budget, they failed to educate our  own LGBT community on the benefits associated with the historic Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) delivered by the case, Macy v. Holder decision and the protections it brought to the LGBT community. In the words of Dana Beyer who wrote on Huffington Post “…in the vacuum of national advocacy, when those with the broadest reach don’t use their resources and platform to educate and inform, it will be as if those protections do not exist, or they will exist only for the few lucky enough to have discovered the truth on their own.

b. Persisted in supporting an extremely dangerous ENDA –  with flagrant disregard for the severely onerous religious exemptions that hurt the LGBT community and after many activists pleaded with them to refrain from supporting the punitive legislation. Other organizations (e.g. NCLR, ACLU, ) eventually came on board to denounce the odious form of ENDA, while HRC continued to support it.

c. HRC recently failed, despite setting membership and community up to believe it was in control, to avert the Houston, North Carolina and Georgia anti-LGBT legislation:
Signorile: “... Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT group, has come under intense fire on social media, including from many transgender people, for its lack of a strategy in combating the rapid passage of a heinous anti-LGBT law in North Carolina which strips existing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances in the state and bars transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.”

d. HRC’s  poor response to HIV/AIDS issues:  ACT UP published an open letter to HRC demanding more involvement by the nation’s largest LGBT organization in the fight against HIV by funding community groups and establishing a liaison to support and coordinate with their work: “.….ACT UP NY has decided to protest the neglect of HIV/AIDS by most mainstream LGBT organizations.”    Read More  and More

e. To what extent is HRC beholden to its Republican supporting funder?  Is there a conflict of interests? Is HRC under any quid pro quo to help the GOP keep its Senate Majority because it has received $3 Million from Republican ‘vulture capitalist’ Paul Singer?   And to add insult to injury HRC has taken on funding to effectively make the world’s poor even poorer.   Singer has made his money hurting poor people globally. Singer also helps fund candidates in the U.S. who vote against our LGBT and women’s interests.   Read More.

f. HRC calls Monsanto one of “the best places to work” awarding them a 100% rating in their 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

g. HRC raises funds and capitalizes on the tireless work of grassroots activists and other smaller underfunded organizations, failing to give credit and share in funds where and when due.

h. HRC has created the false notion on the Hill and around the country that they are somehow appointed to lead and represent the voices for all LGBTQ people, on all our issues. This is exploitative –  because they have more resources and are strategically located, they are able to manipulate and foster this misconception.  Grassroots activists who disagree with their leadership and strategies are hardly heard.

i. Through the HRC premature endorsement of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, they have succeeded in alienating many in their membership.   Had Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton differed on LGBT issues, it would have been appropriate to endorse one presidential candidate above the other at this early stage. However, because Bernie and Hillary are essentially both Democrats and the same on equality and related issues, they should have held off until the General Election, to highlight the huge schism between the Dems and GOP on LGBT issues.   One only needs to look at footage at all the  Clinton rallies and Human Rights Campaign ads, to see that HRC has become a self-appointed LGBT campaign arm to the Clinton Campaign. It seems that it is spending resources deploying leadership to rallies and rounding up members to attend and stump for Hillary Clinton.   Perhaps this has derogated from the resources needed to counter the anti-gay measures around the country – such as in North Carolina.

j. Wealthy White Guys:  All I will do here is quote someone from a Facebook comment:
HRC is controlled by wealthy white guys who could care less about minorities or women. And I say this as a wealthy white guy who as of Monday is no longer a member or supporter of the HRC because the world is a lot more than just a few privileged wealthy white men. We’ve plenty of mainstream organizations already supporting us and our interests; we don’t need HRC’s help, trust me. I’m furious with the HRC as a gay man who cares about my brothers and sisters in the struggle.

And just like HRC’s endorsement of  Mark Kirk ahead of that of Tammy Duckworth, the establishment is led to believe that HRC represents all our LGBTQ voices- they do not!

READ MORE to see how HRC tried unsuccessfully to justify their endorsement of Kirk to Michelangelo Signorile in his article :  How The Human Rights Campaign Is Helping the GOP to Retain the Senate

MORE ABOUT TAMMY DUCKWORTH from the Campaign website:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 9.43.50 AMTammy was living in DeKalb, Illinois, working at Rotary International while pursuing a Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University, when her unit, headquartered in Peoria, was mobilized in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. On November 12, 2004 Tammy’s UH‐60 Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. She lost both legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion. As a result of her injuries, Tammy was awarded the Purple Heart.

Following her injuries, Tammy became an advocate for Veterans. While serving as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs in Springfield, she implemented many first in the nation programs to alleviate suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, improve traumatic brain injury screening and reduce homelessness among Veterans. She declined a military medical retirement and continued to drill as a Lieutenant Colonel in Springfield with the Illinois Army National Guard.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 9.43.14 AMIn 2009, President Obama nominated Tammy to be an Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. There, she headed the department’s effort to end Veteran homelessness and was a leader in initiatives for female Veterans. She also implemented innovative efforts such as creating the Office of Social Media and Online Communications and the Office for Tribal Government Relations.

In Congress, Tammy is focused on growing our economy by advocating for small businesses, investing in infrastructure, improving the lives of our Veterans and cutting government waste and fraud. Tammy serves on the House Armed Services and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

Tammy, her husband Bryan, a Major in the U.S. Army, and their daughter Abigail live in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

If you agree please support Tammy Duckworth and when doing so let her and all  know that you are LGBT and that you are not in agreement with Human Rights Campaign (HRC )- your endorsement, vote and donations are important to this end. GO HERE.


Melanie Nathan,  [email protected]



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