Melanie Nathan, 3-24-10 San Francisco:- Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet is a Democrat running against Mary Bono Mack, incumbent Republican, for California’s 45th Congressional District. Pougnet is openly gay, and if elected he stands to be the first gay member of Congress, married with children. His strong following in Palm Springs has much to do with his success as mayor and his stand on mainstream issues of importance to all constituents, alike.
Bono Mack was first elected to fill the remainder of her late husband Sonny Bono’s term. Bono Mack is currently married to ‘uber-right-wing’ Florida Congressman Connie Mack.
Pougnet http://www.electpougnet.com/ is the sitting Mayor of Palm Springs. He previously served on Palm Springs City Council. After graduating from Michigan State University, Pougnet worked in the Colorado School of Mines as the Vice President and Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Michigan State University. Pougnet also worked in the non-profit world as the Associate Director of the National Corporate Leadership Program at the United Way. In addition to being Mayor, Pougnet currently co-chairs a number of Palm Springs city government committees and projects.
Mayor Pougnet and his husband Christopher, together for 17 years, were one the 18,000 same-sex couples married in California before the passage of Prop 8. They are the parents of 3-year old twins Julia and Beckham. The Advocate notes that Pougnet could become the first openly gay congressman who is both a father and legally married.
Bilerico Project, reports that “Rep. Bono Mack’s record on LGBT issues can charitably be described as weak. She earned a 55% on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard for the 110th Congress. Despite being the step-mother of Chaz Bono, she has failed to co-sponsor ENDA, DADT repeal, and the Uniting American Families Act.”
On the one hand it would not do his campaign well nor his goals any justice, if we were to cast Steve purely as a ‘gay rights advocate’; that is a given. For him to succeed this aspect of his private life ought to embolden his run but not define it. His well rounded approach to governance must take center stage and his core values on issues will drive his campaign.
I was fortunate to enjoy a lengthy conversation with the Mayor last evening. He was kind enough to chat on the phone and answer my myriad of gay and lesbian (LGBTQI) interest questions. I found him to be informal, friendly and resolved; while he will attend to the issues in D.C. that are most important to ALL his constituents; he certainly has a keen eye on those that impact the LGBT community.
As my readers know, my advocacy priorities include, in order of importance, protecting sexual orientation in the Civil Rights Act, the urgent Repeal of DOMA, Immigration Reform and Equality (UAFA), Repeal of DADT and of course all LGBT legislation. We discussed the plight of bi-national lesbians and gays and I have no doubt that we would have a very effective and vocal ally in Steve.
I asked the Mayor specifically if he would co-sponsor and push for the Repeal of DOMA – in the form of Jerold Nadler’s legislation RMA, The Respect for Marriage Act, as a priority for LGBT equality, and he said he absolutely would. This was an important question for me, and is of paramount importance for the LGBT community, because as you recall, being GAY and OPEN does not necessarily mean a Representative will always act in the best interests of the LGBT community.
For example, Congressman Barney Frank refused to co-sign onto DOMA’s repeal, as previously quoted on LGR, “ until ENDA and DADT pass first.” There is always the danger that a representative may choose to please the mainstream constituent at the expense of the LGBT community; by applying the strategy that we need the little legislation to pass so that we can slowly introduce America to our bigger need. I for one can never subscribe to this strategy.
After spending quite some time discussing legislation and specifics I came out believing that Steve Pougnet would be the perfect first Gay married dad Congressman, apt to represent our interests with courage and without any ambiguity.
In this political climate it is imperative that National attention is drawn to regional representatives. Steve Pougnet’s election is not a purely 45th District concern; and nor is it a pure Republican v Democrat endeavor. It is a “we are equal, we are equal, we are a fact and not we must have legal recognition matter.”
The election of Pougnet, regardless of his politics, brings the face of all gay families to Congress. Imagine a member of Congress not having the right to adopt a sibling for his children, in the State of Florida. Not having the right to complete a join federal Tax return. This visibility has untold positive attributes and it has to great deal to do with the Mayor’s unapologetic visibility, his public life has embraced his personal life and his work has been most effective, in tandem. I have no doubt that this is his natural way and so it shall be when he is in Congress.
Most significantly is the fact that the DCCC named Mayor Steve Pougnet to their Red to Blue program, their listing of the most competitive challenger races in the country:
There are approximately thirteen candidates that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified as likely to transform a seat from the red to blue. Candidates named by DCCC to likely to succeed taking a GOP seat – according to “ Roll Call,” fit the criteria for inclusion in the ‘Red to Blue’ program is that: “the candidates selected for the program this cycle must surpass “demanding fundraising goals” and demonstrate their political abilities before making the list. But now that these Democrats are in the program, the committee offers them financial, communication, grass-roots and strategic support.”
So with this great boost, many allies and the opportunity for a great Campaign, all Steve needs from you is your time and/ or your money. In fact the LGBT community needs your time and money. This LGBTQI America is for all of us. It must happen. I do not ask for much but this I must insist upon. Join Steve Pougnet’s campaign on Face-Book, and Send $10.00. We must get Steve Pougnet elected and make no mistake its will still be quite a task.
As a married lesbian mother of two, also from California, and also one of the 18,000 married in 2008, I will feel SO represented should I have a family like mine in Congress. I will hope also for Steve to pave the way for many more in the future.
Given the resources success is in reach and so please look out for Fund-raising events and Calls for help in your area.
Friday, March 26, 2010
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Geoff Kors, Stephen Adams, Clay Doherty, Joe Cotchett
Martin Skea and Christopher Mondini
The Honorable Mark Leno
The Honorable John Burton
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
(Host Committee in Formation)
Cordially Invite You to a Reception Honoring
PALM SPRINGS MAYOR STEVE POUGNET
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress, California’s 45th District
Steve Pougnet will be the first gay, legally married Member of Congress with young children. In 2007 Steve was elected Mayor of Palm Springs where he has proven himself as a bi-partisan leader. Steve is committed to sustainability and renewable energy initiatives will champion comprehensive health care and fight to reinvigorate the American economy. He is challenging Mary Bono-Mack – one of only a few Republican Members of Congress who is serving in a district that Barack Obama won. Just last week the DCCC named Steve to their Red to Blue program, their listing of the most competitive challenger races in the country.
Offices of Sterling, Bank and Trust – Seligman Western
The Transamerica Pyramid, 40th Floor
600 Montgomery Street (Enter through the Visitor’s Entrance)
San Francisco, CA 94111
$2,400 – Chair
$1,000 – Host
$500 – Sponsor
$250 – Supporter
$100 – Min. Suggested Contribution
Melanie Nathan pictured with Geoff Kors.