Two LGBTQ candidates clash in Alabama, creating a political rift

Two LGBTQ candidates are running against each other in Tuesday’s Alabama Democratic primary, splitting the party.

Britt Block, a non-binary woman who uses the pronouns “she” and “they”, announced last year that she would run for the Alabama House of Representatives, representing 54 counties that include downtown East Birmingham. The seat is currently held by MP Neil Rafferty, the state’s only LGBTQ legislator who has to fight against LGBTQ legislation In Alabama for the last two years.

“After helping 20 Democrat women over the past five years, I was ready for the many challenges I would face in daring to run against a white, sexist, male-dominated president,” Block wrote in his book about Rafferty. Facebook post earlier this month. But he said he was not ready for some obstacles. He said the cars chased him as he stormed in, and that the Democratic Party of Alabama vice-president, along with some donors, stopped him from supporting his campaign.

Block said he had asked Rafferty to meet with him at the bar before he formally announced his candidacy so he could speak to him in person.

“I wanted him to understand that I did not run against him, that these are the things I have been thinking about for many years, that’s the right time for me,” he told NBC News.

But he said Raferti didn’t seem to understand, “he went so far as to call me a ‘wrong run’, which I’m not sure how wrong it is, because the primaries work that way, don’t they?” Block said.

US Congressman Neil Rafferty addresses Alabama State House rally to draw attention to anti-gender legislation in Montgomery, Ala, March 30, 2021.Julie Bennett / Getty Images File:

Rafferty did not comment directly on Block, but said in an e-mailed statement that he would never encourage LGBTQ people to run for office, noting that the Kurdish community is still under-represented across the country.

“When I spoke to them before and after they announced their candidacy, I did not discourage their candidacy,” said Rafferty, a former Birmingham AIDS Outreach nonprofit group about Block. “I will never prevent an LGBTQ person from running for office, as it contradicts my core beliefs, the vision for the future of our movement. Initially, I hoped that the redistribution process would allow us to run in individual constituencies so that we could double LGBTQ representation in the state legislature. “When I learned that they were going to run in the same neighborhood as me, I made it clear that I was going to run a clean race, which I have.”

Block also said he was opposed by at least two prominent Democratic leaders in the state. Shortly before announcing his candidacy in June, he spoke with the party’s vice president, Patricia Todd, who was based in the 54th district.

Block said Todd told him I was “eating mine” while running.

“I did not agree with him, I said that I think it is wonderful for LGBTQ youth to see a lot of weird people running for office,” Block said.

Todd said he really prevented Block from running against Rafferty and advised him to run for another position, such as a school board.

“I think I’m an old schoolboy when you have a candidate running for re-election who is a good Democrat, a progressive thinker, successful, has passed some bills, defended our community, why do we want to change horses in the middle of the race?” »: Todd said. “I think he is a great candidate. “I think we need more women to run for office, but I would like people to be careful about running against an incumbent president who is good at our issues. He even admits that he did not disagree with him on politics.”

Block also said that Todd called some of Block’s donors to encourage them to stop supporting the newcomer.

Todd said he had called some of Block’s donors because some of them were Todd’s friends, so he asked them why they supported Block if they were unhappy with Rafferty.

“But I never said, ‘You should not vote for him,’ or anything,” Todd said. “I would not do that.”

Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Birmingham ahead of Tuesday's primary election
Then, MP Patricia Todd performs at Miles College Gymnasium, Fairfield, Ala, 2016. on February 27.Taylor Hill / WireImage file:

Block said it was surprising that Todd would “come out so tough on the first non-binary candidate to run for office” when the country was “at a crucial juncture when it comes to gender identity”.

Blake cited remarks made last year by Anthony Daniels, a Democrat in the House of Representatives, who said Democratic leaders would “do everything in their power to protect Neil.”

Daniels told the Alabama Daily News In June, shortly after Block entered the race, he was determined to support Rafferty in his re-election.

“Pat. “Raferti was a wonderful, strong member of our group,” said Daniels. “He is deeply committed to his work on his ability to represent criminal justice, social justice, education, equal rights for all, civil rights, all democratic principles.

He added. “There is no doubt that he is a member, we want to be in Montgomery, we will do everything we can to make sure he returns to Montgomery.”

Block confirmed that he did not agree with Rafferty on key policy issues, but said that his style of governing would be different, “in particular, being more prominent, more visible, and more likely to interact with voters.” He said that if he wins. He will be the only government official with more than a decade of community activism experience, including access to LGBTQ rights abortions.

Todd praised Rafferty for his advocacy against transgender bills, including the Alabama Bill, which bans sex-promoting medical care for minors under the age of 19. He said the measure runs counter to Republican ideals, such as a small government, that lawmakers would “target the backs of children.”

“Just do not dare to call me a friend after this,” Rafferty told supporters of the bill shortly before it was passed, and it was later signed by the governor. It was then temporarily blocked by the trial judge.

But Block said Rafferty’s strategy of trying to appease the Republicans did not work.

“My approach to representation differs from that of Representative Raferti, as I believe that the most progressive voice in the legislature must be very loud and always visible,” Block said. “We have proven time and time again that making friends with Republicans around the world does not prevent us from pursuing a bad policy.”

As more LGBTQ candidates are nominated for office, many of them will compete against each other, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which is dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQ elected officials in the United States. Approved by Rafferty last year.

Albert Fuji, a spokesman for the organization, said there were more than a dozen primaries this year involving two or more LGBTQ people. He said that the total number of LGBTQ people nominated so far – 950, it seems that it may exceed the 2020 record of 1006.

“There are now a few LGBTQ people in the early stages. Our position is that this is a really good thing,” he said. “The goal of the primaries is to ensure that the strongest candidate, with the best vision and the best political ideas, reaches the general. “In terms of growing our և LGBTQ representation, which is our core mission, this is really a really good thing for our community.”

In order for LGBTQ Americans to achieve equitable representation, more than 28,000 additional LGBTQ representatives must be elected to local, state and federal offices, according to the LGBTQ Victory Foundation 2021 “Out of America” ​​report.

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