In 2002, I was fortunate to run the campaign of John Hickey, who was running for State Representative in West Roxbury. What made Hickey and that campaign so extraordinary was that we ran in favor of marriage equality even before Goodridge. People said we were crazy to run that kind of campaign.
They were right.
On Election Day, Hickey was trounced.
But no one associated with our campaign had any regrets about the type of race we had run and what we stood for.
About 10 years after Hickey’s unsuccessful bid, I am so moved and grateful at how far we have come. We have seen so many of our friends and loved ones share in the joy of marriage and we have celebrated as more and more states follow in our footsteps. But there is more work to be done.
Here we are, 10 years after the advent of marriage equality in Massachusetts, and it is clear that despite all that has been gained from the right to marry, it has merely gotten the LGBT community to the starting line of equality.
There is so much that needs to happen before lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can enjoy full equality in our city and elsewhere.
There is an epidemic of homelessness among LGBT youth. Just three years ago, Boston Children’s Hospital looked at data from surveys of high school students across the state and found that one in four students who say they are gay or lesbian are also homeless.
At the other end of the age spectrum, we see that some of those who have done the most to advance LGBT equality —older gay people who came out long before the idea of two men marrying was taken seriously by anyone other than the most forward-thinking of progressives — find themselves having to go back in the closet as they enter nursing homes or assisted living facilities. As mayor, I will appoint a Coordinator of LGBT Services to the Boston Elderly Commission.
We need to continue the work of making it safe for people to come out in school, in the work place, and where they live—whether that is at home with their parents, or in a home with caregivers. And we need to ensure that LGBT young people and LGBT elders get the services and support they need to live their lives with dignity.
We must also fully resource and implement the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law. This law is a good start, but it does not go far enough and it does not provide funding for schools to implement the law. As mayor, I will not wait for the legislature, I will find the money to implement the law and will take any and all steps necessary to end bullying in our schools and online. BPS is doing the best it can with the resources it has, but it needs full funding to ensure that all students are safe and secure at school and beyond.
I will also require that all city forms, applications, and surveys include the option for residents to indicate sexual orientation and gender identity. Giving citizens the option to self-identify is not only the right thing to do, it also helps to ensure that city services are reaching all communities and to track the effectiveness of programs across communities.
A few years ago, MassEquality, the organization that did so much to bring marriage equality to Massachusetts, honored Mayor Tom Menino with an Icon Award and called him a champion of the LGBT community. Mayor Menino has indeed been a national leader on LGBT issues. He has created a blueprint for how to serve the LGBT community that I will be proud to build upon.
I look forward to making Boston an even better city than it is today. And I will do that by partnering with the LGBT community and being a champion for LGBT equality.
As mayor of Boston, my support for the LGBT community and my advocacy for LGBT equality will remain as strong as it was in 2002, when I ran John Hickey’s ill-fated, but idealistic run for office.
John R. Connolly is a Boston City Councilor and candidate for mayor of Boston.