Out and Running: Gay and Lesbian Candidates, Elections, and Policy Representation

By Donald P. Haider-Markel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Descriptive Representation
and Backlash

It seems that those who announce their sexual orientation to the world are
trying to get all of us to say their relationships are legitimate…. I like [lesbian
legislator] Sheila [Kuehl]. She's a nice lady. But I'll never believe that sort of
sexual behavior is acceptable.

—California senator Ray Haynes (R-Riverside)

I saw where that [gay rights] bill went two years ago, and I would have to say
at this point, you know, I'll fight bad bills, but that's probably what my best
role is right now, to fight bad bills.

—Arkansas representative Kathy Webb on her role as an LGBT legislator

It's just been very intense…. I spend as much time and energy as I can talking
to my colleagues, talking to my community, organizing a larger coalition
response, really trying hard to cultivate other kinds of voices to help participate
in this whole conversation…. Meanwhile, I'm trying to work on quite a few
other issues. It really does distract from our creative energy, our time, the work
that goes into crafting the kind of solutions I'm working on for other issues.

—Openly gay Minnesota state senator Scott Dibble (R)
regarding his efforts to block a state constitutional amendment
that would have banned same-sex marriages

THE RESULTS ANALYZED in chapters 4 and 5 clearly indicate that increased LGBT descriptive representation is associated with increased substantive representation. This conclusion is consistent with a considerable amount of research on ethnic and racial minorities as well as women in elected office. The other side of this coin is an exploration of the influence of LGBT descriptive representation on anti-LGBT legislative efforts. If LGBT legislators can serve to promote LGBT interests by pursuing pro-LGBT legislation, they can also serve to promote the interests of the community by blocking anti-LGBT legislation.

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