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MOMBIAN LGBTQ parents making their mark in the world
by Dana Rudolph
2018-09-12

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LGBTQ parents, as a whole, are pretty awesome. We raise our children as successfully as anyone else ( as decades of research has proven ), often in the face of marginalization and discrimination. LGBTQ parents are having an impact in the wider world, too, some in very visible ways—so let's meet a few of them who are doing so in the realms of politics, business, sports, and faith, and who may not yet be widely known.

First, more than three dozen LGBTQ parents are running for public office in the 2018 election, at the local, state, and federal levels. These are not necessarily endorsements; any candidate may have flaws, and we should all learn more about anyone running in our locales. The candidates above offer us useful examples, however, of how a person can balance both family and public service while also being out and proud. Whether we support them or not, their examples may encourage more of us to seek office or become actively involved in campaigns and get-out-the-vote drives.

Perhaps most prominent are the four running for governor: Kate Brown is running for a second term as governor of Oregon. Brown, who is bisexual, is the first openly LGBTQ governor of any identity. She and her husband raised two children, now grown. Christine Hallquist, running in Vermont, would become the country's first openly transgender governor if she wins. The former CEO of a utility company, she is also the parent of three and grandparent of two. Actor Cynthia Nixon ( one of the few here with national visibility ) is seeking the governorship in New York. She has three children, two from a previous marriage and one with her current spouse. Jared Polis, running for governor of Colorado, is currently a U.S. representative from the state. In 2011, he became the first openly LGBTQ parent in Congress. He and his partner are raising two children.

At least six LGBTQ parents are running for the U.S. House of Representatives: Lauren Baer ( Florida ); Lorie Burch ( Texas ); Alexandra Chandler ( Massachusetts ), who would be the first openly transgender member of Congress if elected; Angie Craig ( Minnesota ); Jamie McLeod-Skinner ( Oregon ); and Rick Neal ( Ohio ). Many more are running for state legislatures, state attorney generalships, city councils, and school boards, among other positions. ( See my fuller list at Mombian.com . )

In the related judicial realm, Mary Rowland, in June, was nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the only openly LGBTQ person among President Trump's nearly 140 judicial nominees. She's also a mom and has two grown children with her spouse. In her August confirmation hearing, she "enjoyed bipartisan support," reported the Washington Blade. The Judiciary Committee must now vote on her nomination. If they approve, the full Senate will do so.

In the corporate world, agricultural cooperative Land O'Lakes, best known for its dairy products, at the end of July named long-time executive Beth Ford its new CEO, making her not only the first known queer woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, but only the third queer person overall, according to Fortune. She and her spouse have three teenage children.

In sports, Curt Miller, head coach of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, led his team to a fourth-place finish in the league before they were knocked out in the second round of playoffs at the end of August. Miller is "believed to be the first openly gay male coach of a professional team in the United States," reported The New York Times in a recent profile. He and his former partner raised twin boys, now grown, born to the partner's sister. Miller lives with one of them during the off season, the Hartford Courant reported in July. The other, after becoming addicted to opioids, is now serving a sentence for armed robbery. Miller spoke with the Courant about how he struggled with feeling like he had let the LGBTQ community down because he had a son with an addiction. Now he hopes to be a role model and resource for those also going through difficult times.

In the realm of faith, Rabbi Georgette Kennebrae earlier this year became the spiritual leader of West End Synagogue, a Reconstructionist Jewish congregation in New York City. The mother of three teens, she also this year received a prestigious Schusterman Fellowship from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, "an intensive, 18-month leadership development program" for non-profit leaders. Growing up, she lived around the world as part of a military family and is committed "to multi-faith and multi-ethnic engagement," her congregation's website says. She also wants to make people "understand that I'm not rare as a Jew of color," she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in July.

It's true there are also numerous LGBTQ parents of ultra-celebrity status, including actors Neil Patrick Harris and Angelina Jolie, comedian Wanda Sykes, and Olympian and television personality Caitlin Jenner, among others—but their stratospheric fame may be hard to relate to, even as they offer visibility for our community. Our accomplishments don't always have to be quite so rarefied.

Public accomplishments, in any case, are not necessarily the measure of someone's worth. For most of us, putting food on our families' tables and getting the kids tucked in safely and happily at night are accomplishments beyond measure. But for those LGBTQ parents who wish to make their mark in other ways, too, we have an increasing number of role models.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( Mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


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