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Minnesota Lesbian Candidate Doesn't Let Labor Pains Stop Her Speech

Erin Maye Quade

Erin Maye Quade spoke at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's convention less than 24 hours before giving birth to her first child.

A lesbian candidate for state Senate in Minnesota was in labor while giving a speech seeking her party's endorsement but didn't let the contractions stop her -- and while she didn't get the endorsement, she may stay in the race.

Erin Maye Quade, who is running in Senate District 56, was speaking Saturday at the convention of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as the Democratic Party is called in Minnesota. She had begun having contractions earlier in the day, The Washington Post reports. She came to the DFL convention anyway, taking breaks as needed, and spoke as scheduled.

"This is our moment to build our future together," she said, as documented on video. "To unlock the powerful, life-affirming, transformative kind of politics that means we can ... create economic opportunity and prosperity and safeguard our civil and human rights." Even having intense labor pains, she finished her speech and stayed through a question-and-answer period.

"Erin had a contraction during her speech in front of a room of 200 people and then again during her Q&A," Emma McBride, political director for Women Winning and a supporter of McBride, told the Post. "While her opponent continued on answering the question, she was bent over in the chair holding her wife's hand -- and then immediately afterward was handed the mic and expected to answer a question, which she did and she did flawlessly."

McBride and others said the party should have suspended the process due to Maye Quade's labor. "While we were in awe of her strength, it was actually horrifying to watch a woman go through this vulnerable experience with nobody with the power to do so stepping in and putting an end to it," McBride said. Her rival, Justin Emmerich, told the Post he would have agreed to a suspension if Maye Quade had made a formal request.

In the first round of delegate balloting, Maye Quade received 74 votes and Emmerich 91, meaning neither of them received the 60 percent necessary to avoid a second round. But Maye Quade decided to go to the hospital instead of trying to persuade some delegates to switch their votes to her. Emmerich received the endorsement, and Maye Quade gave birth to a daughter, Harriet Blake Maye Quade, at 2:20 a.m. Sunday. The girl is the first child for Maye Quade and her wife, Alyse Maye Quade.

Although Erin Maye Quade didn't win the party's endorsement, she may still run against Emmerich in the primary election, scheduled for August 9, her campaign manager, Mitchell Walstad, told local media and confirmed to The Advocate. She hasn't made a decision yet, Walstad said. The incumbent, DFL member Greg Clausen, is not seeking reelection. The district is located in a suburban area around the Twin Cities.

Maye Quade would be the first Black woman and first out lesbian in the Minnesota Senate. She is a former state representative -- only the third Black woman elected to that position in Minnesota -- and was a staffer for Keith Ellison when he was a congressman (he's now Minnesota attorney general). She is currently advocacy director for Gender Justice, which works for equality for all regardless of gender, gender identity, or gender expression.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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