In the deeply red state of Kansas, the Kansas City suburb of Olathe has long been especially so -- but this bastion of the religious right is changing to the point that it may elect a bisexual feminist to the state House of Representatives.
The New Republic has just published a profile of Liz Dickinson, who the magazine calls "the most exciting underdog in Kansas." A Democrat and a former lobbyist for the National Organization for Women, she is running against socially conservative Republican Randy Powell to represent the 30th district in the Kansas House. The current holder of the seat, far-right Republican Lance Kinzer, is not running for reelection and picked Powell as his successor. But Dickinson, who ran against Kinzer in 2012 and won 46 percent of the vote, has a good chance of beating Powell, The New Republic predicts.
"A more liberal, tolerant attitude, characteristic of young professionals, is beginning to gnaw at the edges of Olathe's social conservatism," the magazine reports. "This fall, the struggle for Olathe's soul will focus not only on the governor's race, but on a race for the state legislature's 30th district, which is concentrated in the northern part of the city and in neighboring Lenexa."
In her campaign, Dickinson is emphazing education, women's rights, and LGBT rights. "My opponent doesn't believe in the Department of Education," she told The New Republic. "He admits he doesn't know much about Common Core, but he is opposed to it. He doesn't stand for women's rights." In her last campaign, she was asked why, as a married mother of two, she cared so much about LGBT rights. She responded that she is bisexual. She says it hasn't become an issue.
Powell, a conservative Christian, differs markedly with Dickinson's stances. "I think Liz is probably pro-choice, I would call her anti-life," he told The New Republic. "I think she is concerned -- is it the lesbian gay bisexual? Is it LGBT? -- she was upset about that. I would look at it from the flipside of that coin. I think marriage should be between a man and a woman. Setting aside my religious convictions, show me a culture that has survived and prospered where marriage isn't between a man and a woman." Powell will soon find out -- with Monday's Supreme Court decision not to review a pro-marriage equality ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Kansas in its jurisdiction, the state will offer legal same-sex marriage.
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