LGBTQ POLITICS - In a historic first for the country, two gay candidates are running against each other in a general election for Congress – and they are absolute polar opposites.
In New York’s 3rd district, which includes a large swath of Long Island and parts of Queens, Progressive Democrat Robert Zimmerman (left photo) is facing off against Trump-loving Republican George Santos (right photo).
Zimmerman is running on a platform of LGBTQ equality, access to abortion, affordable health care, and gun violence prevention. A member of the Democratic National Committee, he has been fighting to take corporate money out of politics and demolish the superdelegate system.
As a closeted kid in the 70s, he was told by a trusted adult he should try conversion therapy. He never did, but has said the suggestion fueled his fire to become a political activist.
Santos, on the other hand, supports Donald Trump, has said abortion is as barbaric as slavery, and has voiced support for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. He attended the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and was recently caught on video saying he wrote a “nice check” to help cover the legal fees of some of the rioters. Santos has denied supporting the lie that President Biden stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump.
Santos’s official platform is focused on battling inflation, crime, and energy costs. In 2020, he called himself “a walking, living, breathing contradiction” and said he was “more fiscally conservative but socially liberal.” He also tweeted that his sexuality has nothing to do with the issues and lambasted his liberal critics for “play[ing] identity politics” and calling him a “‘misguided self hating gay.”‘
Despite their completely opposing ideologies, whoever wins will make history as the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from Long Island. The seat is considered crucial to Democrats as they fight to keep their majority in the House.
According to LGBTQ Victory Fund Deputy Political Director Cesar Toledo, Zimmerman is a frontrunner in the race due to recent redistricting that has caused the area to lean Democratic.
“Biden won this seat by eight points, so Robert Zimmerman is highly favored and poised to increase LGBTQ representation in Congress,” Toledo said.
Victory Fund has endorsed Zimmerman.
“When reproductive rights and LGBTQ freedoms are under direct assault, Long Island voters know that they can trust someone like Robert Zimmerman,” Toledo said, “and we are proud and enthusiastic to be supportive of someone who has lifelong record championing pro-equality and pro-choice issues…Candidates to be endorsed by our organization must support LGBTQ rights and reproductive freedom, and George clearly doesn’t meet that criteria.”
(Molly Sprayregen is a queer writer. Her work can be found in Out Magazine, Them, Into Magazine, The Associated Press, LGBTQ Nation, Roxane Gay's Gay Magazine, and more. More info at MollySpray.com. This story was featured in LTBTQ Nation.)