Op-ed: Why Maura Healey Must Bust A New Glass Ceiling

Massachusetts' attorney general race isn't just a local matter.

BY Kara Coredini

July 25 2014 3:02 AM ET

Maura Healey

The visionary, national leadership of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office on marriage equality has awakened the LGBT community across the country to the importance of this office and what’s at stake when Massachusetts votes for who will lead it next.

In recent years, our country has witnessed the transformative role a nation-leading attorney general’s office can play in the lives of LGBT people. In 2009, at oral arguments, Maura Healey represented the state and the interests of 16,000 married, same-sex couples in Massachusetts in a challenge to the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned marriages — and won.

Because of that leadership, couples all over the country — regardless of the state they live in — are married in the eyes of our federal government. We saw that leadership on display again when our attorney general’s office convinced 13 other state attorneys general to join the suit to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which stripped same-sex couples in that state of the freedom to marry.

Healey, the civil rights attorney who led the Massachusetts team that crafted, argued, and won the historic first lawsuit to bring down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is now running to be Massachusetts’ next attorney general. She has exactly the vision, drive, and experience that our country needs in that influential position.

For the past seven years, Healey helped lead the AG’s office and manage more than 250 attorneys and staff, while fighting to protect civil rights and consumer rights of all residents. She’s addressed critical public safety issues like opiate abuse, child safety, human trafficking, and gun violence.

In addition to Healey’s transformative leadership on marriage equality, she was pivotal in the successful efforts to pass Massachusetts’ Transgender Equal Rights Law. She helped successfully secure one of the country’s strongest LGBT anti-bullying laws. She’s trained law enforcement on how to implement sexual orientation and gender identity hate crimes protections. She’s been a leader committed to enforcing the law, to making it more than mere words on a page. The lives of families around our country are better because of the leadership Healey has shown in our attorney general’s office. Her influence locally will only be magnified to the national level when she’s elected, which is why Healey is the right choice to become the first ever openly LGBT person to hold the office of state attorney general.

That is why the MassEquality PAC, the political arm of Massachusetts’ statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, was proud to give Healey its first endorsement of the 2014 electoral cycle. And the national significance of her campaign is further reflected in her having earned the endorsements of national organizations such as EMILY’s List, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the Women’s Campaign Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Imagine how the presence of an openly LGBT colleague at a regular meeting of the 50 state attorneys general will effect the decisions and judgments they take back home and exercise in their own states. Imagine the catalyzing impact on the dreams of LGBT young people all across the country who see that they could reach toward becoming a state’s top lawyer one day, too.

With 59 percent of voters still undecided, this race is up for grabs. But polls show when Healey meets voters, she wins their vote. I implore LGBT people across the country to support Maura Healey in this nationally significant race. To make history, Healey needs us to stand with her as she has stood up for us.

 

KARA COREDINI has worked in LGBTQ politics for 16 years and is currently the executive director of MassEquality. Founded in 2001 to protect marriage equality in the first freedom-to-marry state, MassEquality is now the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

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