Carole Migden, California, 1990
Carole Migden (D)
Born August 14, 1947
State Senate, District 3
San Francisco, California
Elected to San Francisco Board of Supervisors November 1990
Elected to State Assembly, District 13, November 1996
Re-elected 1998, 2000
Elected to the State Board of Equalization November 2002
Elected to the State Senate November 2004
Essay by Carole Migden for Out and Elected in the USA
As one of only two openly lesbian members of the California State Assembly when I arrived in Sacramento in 1996, I wasn't sure what to expect from my more conservative colleagues. I was surprised to find a high degree of personal respect and camaraderie despite genuine differences of opinion on the issues. We're all here in this Capitol building together, often late at night, away from our families and homes, and a bond inevitably forms between us. This bond makes it harder for my colleagues to look at lesbians and gays in the same negative light, because they know me, like me, and respect me.
Over the years, I've repeatedly witnessed the importance of forging alliances with my fair-minded straight colleagues. Rallying the support of straight members and advocates on behalf of my community's struggle for equal rights is a key component to many of my legislative successes. Having straight people stick up for gay people is a powerful way to open the minds and hearts of those who would otherwise be against us. In the Assembly, for example, there are only three openly gay voters on the floor of the Assembly, leaving 77 straight-identified ones. If I leave them out, I'd never have any hope of accomplishing anything.
This same dynamic is applicable in schools, businesses, and just about every different sector of the community. We can't afford to become cliquish or alienated. We must reach out and enlist the support of people outside of the gay community if we want to move forward. I'm very proud of the fact that when it's time to choose the leaders of key committees in Sacramento and for Capitol insiders to select the most respected, hardworking, intelligent, and ambitious legislators in Sacramento, the lesbians come out on top.
It also thrills me that as Chair of Appropriations, they have to come and ask a dyke for money. And as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, they had to go to former Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl to make the laws. They like us, and are forced to question their previously negative view of gay people. Yet I find it ironic and insulting that this same society that trusts us to play these crucial roles will not recognize and accept my many years-relationship with my partner Cris. We're both taxpayers, we deserve the same rights and privileges as anyone else.
What I hope to reinforce is the message that gays and lesbians are effective leaders and are productive members of society. I want people to know that gays and lesbians have great potential and deserve the same chance to excel and contribute that Sheila and my newer openly lesbian Assembly colleagues and I do. I hope our detractors are getting the message that everyone stands to benefit – and shouldn't be afraid - when people from diverse walks of life are able to pursue their dreams in a peaceful, productive way.