Just when you think it couldn't get any worse for Equality California they go and 'step in it big time.' Without interviewing any of the candidates and behind closed doors they chose a straight (very nice) establishment incumbent Betsy Butler instead of the extremely exciting populist and grassroots campaign of open lesbian icon Torie Osborn. Yep, that's right, our statewide LGBT organization chose the safe straight candidate over an exciting lesbian pioneer and wouldn't even allow her to come in for an interview by the board.
For the last year Torie has been building an impressive grassroots effort for the open 50th District Assembly seat. She has held training sessions to teach rudimentary campaign skills for those working in a campaign for the first time. Her issues would be the pride and joy of the current populist mood and would make anyone in Occupy Wall Street very proud. She has lined up extremely impressive endorsements from Labor, community leaders, homeowner associations and local elected officials. She has raised a significant amount of funds for her race.
She has done everything right.
Then Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (a friend of the LGBT community) didn't like her new district and simply moved into the one that Torie has been working for a year. Of course it is her right to do so but it is also our right to do a big "say what?"
Torie Osborn is no new kid on the block who hasn't earned her right to win this election. As Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign California stated in a letter to Equality California:
As the self-proclaimed leading LGBT rights organization in the state, Equality California has a particular responsibility to the community. Therefore, I was more than surprised that it chose to endorse a candidate for the open 50th assembly district, which is heavily LGBT, without even bothering to interview Torie Osborn, one of the icons of the LGBT movement. Torie built the LA Gay and Lesbian Center into a powerhouse at the height of the AIDS pandemic, saving lives and creating permanent bonds in Los Angeles and nationally that have been a model for the movement. She was Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was and is a mentor to hundreds of young LGBT folks who rely on the few role models out there. She conceived of and ran Camp Courage that trained 1,600 activists in the wake of the Prop. 8 debacle. EQCA owes itself, the community and the candidates the decency to withdraw its endorsement of a candidate who sits on their board, interview all candidates in this open district while insisting that it cannot endorse anyone on their board, and making its endorsement process public. I would hope that all three candidates would agree that this is the right thing to do to restore faith.