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LGBTQ Get out the Vote Rally Credit: Melanie Lei

“Are we going to queer the Vote?” asked College senior Jason Goodman, as he, other Penn students and local political figures gathered on a wet College Green Wednesday for the Get Out the LGBTQA Vote Rally.

The Community Engagement Committee, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist group under the Lambda Alliance at Penn, organized the rally. The event, which started at 12:30 p.m. — 30 minutes later than scheduled due to a rain delay — featured speeches from state senators, state representatives and a city council member. Susan Clark-Sestak, wife of Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak, also spoke, as did State House of Representatives candidate Fern Kaufman. If elected Tuesday, Kaufman will be the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania State Congress.

The nonpartisan rally sought to raise discourse surrounding LGBT youth issues. As well as to encourage people to vote next Tuesday for candidates who are allies of the LGBT community and support equal rights for all.

Goodman, Lambda’s vice chairman of Political Affairs, said, “This election has so much at stake for us. Our vote is our weapon … we are not invisible … we can’t wait on the sidelines anymore.”

According to Goodman and the politicians, the most important issue facing the LGBT community is the amount of hatred from candidates who have made it very clear that they are against gay rights.

Kaufman, a Democrat, is running against current representative Tim Hennessey for state representative of Chester County in Pennsylvania. She says she has been personally attacked for her views many times by her opponent and other people during her campaign.

She said to the crowd, “I’ve walked a mile in your moccasins, and have also walked in moccasins that you guys have yet to walk in.”

“People have said to my face, ‘You’re an abomination of nature,’ but I won’t stop fighting.” She showed the audience a battered campaign sign she found on her lawn. Her name had been blacked out.

College freshman Jose Romero, a member of CEC, said seeing Kaufman’s sign was frightening. “We can’t be on the menu,” he said, “we need to be at the table. We can’t give up.”

The LGBT community is also fighting for specific legislation, such as the passing of marriage equality laws and House Bill 300, which calls for nondiscrimination policies in the state. According to Goodman, they are working on legislation banning hate crimes and bullying.

The idea for the rally began at the first CEC meeting of the year. College freshman Sarah Hendry, the rally coordinator, contacted both Democratic and Republican candidates and officials in the area. Although many declined the invitation, she said she was happy with the eventual turnout.

Students also said they found Susan Clark-Sestak’s speech eloquent and powerful. She said, “The struggle for equality is not easy, but we need to live up to the aspirations of our forefathers. Vote for candidates who will represent every single one of the people of Pennsylvania.”

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