There is a remarkably compelling candidate running to become the eighth openly LGBT member of the United States Congress. His name is Carl Sciortino and he’s a Massachusetts state representative running to fill an open seat in the House of Representatives.
There’s so much I loved and admired about Harvey Milk, that drove me to write the screenplay about him. I see some of those characteristics I most admired in Carl.
In 2004, just after the court ruled for marriage equality in Massachusetts, Carl was a 24-year-old medical researcher working at Boston’s LGBT health center. Carl and some friends went to meet with their state legislator about marriage and were shocked that the lawmaker dismissed them as “you people.”
Tensions were high in Massachusetts. The Vatican, President Bush, Governor Romney and the religious right were trying desperately to stop same-sex couples from marrying in the first-ever state to allow it. They promised to defend anti-gay lawmakers and unseat those who supported marriage equality.
Carl searched for someone to run against his lawmaker. Everyone said no, that the guy couldn’t be defeated, but Carl refused to take no for an answer and decided to run himself.
In spite of homophobic mailers accusing Carl of being a “radical homosexual extremist” and his opponent’s supporters’ desperate attempts to scare away his volunteers at the polls on Election Day by calling them hateful names, he overcame all odds and won by fewer than 100 votes.
Like Harvey Milk, Carl showed the profound courage to run, and not wait for someone else to save the day, because he knew how important it was to offer hope at that crucial point in history. And when he won, Carl gave hope to all those fighting for the freedom to marry in the early days that this was a cause they could win, at a time when victory or loss was very much in question.
Even as a new legislator, Carl saw it as his responsibility to fight for every member of the LGBT community. He courageously drove a transgender non-discrimination law through the legislature and to the governor’s desk, staring down members of leadership who weren’t happy about the bill.
One of my favorite attributes of Harvey’s was that he was a pure populist. He worked hard for all people who have been made to feel “less than,” and all minorities who the system wasn’t working for.
Harvey called this his “coalition of the us’s” — not only gays but blacks, Asians, seniors, the disabled. He understood the interconnectedness of our common struggles.
Fighting for the “us’s” is at the core of who Carl Sciortino is. Carl’s top priority has always been fighting for working people who have had a tough go at it, whether they or the cause is popular or not. He co-founded the Progressive Caucus in the Massachusetts legislature, led an override of Mitt Romney’s veto of a higher minimum wage, fought to close corporate tax loopholes, and helped pass Massachusetts’ landmark universal healthcare law.
Carl believes strongly that we must create a true coalition, where every citizen, regardless of sexual orientation, understands that the fight for the “us’s” isn’t about any one group but instead a fight for justice and equality for anyone who has ever been singled out as second-class.
Please stand with me in helping send this courageous fighter to Congress.
To make a contribution and learn more about Carl, click here.