Vermont Gubernatorial Candidates: LGBTQ and HIV Issues Forum

Help kick off Pride Week with us!
Join Vermont CARES, Outright Vermont, RU12? Community Center, The Samara Foundation, Vermont Freedom to Marry, Pride Vermont and Vermont TransAction at a Pre-Primary Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Monday, July 19th, from 6:30pm-8pm.

Hear from the gubernatorial candidates facing primaries this August about why they deserve to be the next governor of Vermont. Bring your questions and learn about the candidates’ commitment to LGBTQ and HIV issues.

This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Alumni Auditorium at Champlain College, 375 Maple Street, Burlington, VT.

6 Responses to “Vermont Gubernatorial Candidates: LGBTQ and HIV Issues Forum”

  1. 1 Drew Campbell
    June 30, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Which candidates have confirmed they are attending?

  2. 3 Kevin Hurley
    July 7, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    The group of 6 non-profit organizations in Vermont have decided to exclude the independent candidates, Drew.

  3. 5 vermontcares
    July 9, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Drew and Kevin ~ Here is CARES’ response to Kevin’s suggestion; we drafted this quick explanation in conjunction with the other organizers of this event. Thank you for your interest, and please stay in touch as we move toward the general election.


    Thank you for your interest in the gubernatorial candidate forum on July 19th. We would like
    clarify that this forum is for those candidates who are facing a primary on August 24th. We
    apologize if there was confusion about the purpose of this event. Before the general election
    please look for a notice about an event to which all gubernatorial candidates will be invited.

  4. 6 Drew Campbell
    July 9, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Dear Forum Organizers, Invited Candidates, Uninvited Candidates, and Others:

    I would like to add my voice to the chorus of people within the queer community calling for the organizers of the July 19 forum to reverse their dis-invitation to independent and third-party candidates. I have been an active part of this community for many years, and in the interest of full disclosure I’m also a strong supporter of Democrat Peter Shumlin, but I wholeheartedly oppose the exclusionary actions that have taken place.

    I have been active in Vermont’s queer community for 15 years. As a teenager I worked on the Outright Vermont Speaker’s Bureau, traveling to schools to speak about LGBT issues, and I was the Youth Editor of Out In The Mountains. During the debate over civil unions I was employed as the Central Program Support Provider by the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force (VFMTF). I also did paid contract work by Vermonters for Civil Unions to reelect our supporters. Throughout these years (and to this day) I have also lent vast amounts of time volunteering for queer organizations in Vermont.

    Through these experiences I learned firsthand how exclusion hurts and how important it is to include those voices that are often silenced. While working for VFMTF we experienced the “Take Back Vermont” movement, comprised mostly of people vehemently opposed to our rights and oftentimes threatening to us. When the organizers of that movement planned a forum for their supporters, my VFMTF coworkers and I decided that we weren’t going to be left out of the discussion. We contacted the organizers (who were surprised, but willing) and attended the event.

    At this “Take Back Vermont” event I spoke about my life experiences – what it’s like to grow up gay in Vermont, how it wasn’t a choice for me, the troubles I’d experienced, and why it’s important to me to have the same opportunities as others. We also had someone speak from a legal perspective to connect with this audience’s libertarian ideals. After our presentation there were many, many people that approached me and my coworkers to thank us, express how moved they were, and ultimately that we’d changed their minds about the issue. It solidified my view that putting a human story to a so-called “political” issue makes it personal and moves the collective consciousness.

    On the other hand, I was proud that the organizers of “Take Back Vermont” took a risk by allowing a bunch of queers at their forum. Not only were they risking having an opinion at their event that they may disagree with, these organizers risked their own reputations by opening the door to welcome speakers that most of their supporters were opposed to. Their decision to keep the door open allowed everyone to learn something in the end.

    While some things are different in this situation – many of the excluded candidates are strong supporters of our community, and many within our community support them – the lessons of these experiences still hold true. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and exclusion does nothing but hurt for our movement.

    One candidate was told by an organizer of the LGBTQ forum, “Please do not show up at the forum expecting to participate,” and that the “final decision is to only include major party candidates.” Not only is this wrong from a moral standpoint, this was untruthful because the Progressive Party is a major party in Vermont and Martha Abbott reports that she has not received an invitation.

    Later the organizers changed their position to say, “this forum is for those candidates who are facing a primary on August 24th.” Does this mean Brian Dubie has been uninvited, as he’s not facing a primary challenge? I know that Dubie was invited and declined the invitation, so this clearly demonstrates the new position is not a “clarification” – it is a change in policy to justify exclusion.

    In response to the community’s cries for inclusion the organizers also announced they’ll plan a second forum after the primary election. I applaud their effort to hastily decide to plan another forum that’s inclusive, but this doesn’t negate our concerns that candidates are excluded from this one. This forum has the potential to solidify an audience member’s choice of candidate – and as an official part of Pride Week it is undoubtedly the only forum many will attend – so all voices need to be welcome now, not just to a secondary meeting as an afterthought.

    I implore the organizers of the July 19 forum to reverse course on their ever-changing position. You announced this event as an open candidate forum, later changed that to a “major party” forum without inviting all the major parties, then after the the one non-primary candidate conveniently rejected an invitation it was “clarified” that this is only for those facing a primary. This constant change of policy to justify exclusion does an enormous disservice to our community. We need to demonstrate through our actions, not just our words, that our community is about inclusion.

    As a strong supporter of Peter Shumlin, I know that he is principled. I know that the other candidates in this race care about inclusion as well – they have all demonstrated it. I call on all candidates to hear the voices like mine and so many others in the LGBT community that disagree with the exclusionary element of this forum. We ask you to not participate in this event unless all candidates are welcome.

    Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from the “Take Back Vermont” crowd. Open the door – you might learn something.

    Drew Campbell

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