Metro Weekly

Equality PAC endorses three LGBTQ candidates in key congressional races

Endorsees all have previous elective experience, as well as a history of support for LGBTQ rights causes.

equality pac, heather mizeur
(From left to right) Congressional candidates and Equality PAC endorsees Heather Mizeur, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, and Daniel Hernandez. Mizeur photo by Todd Franson; Beach-Ferrara and Hernandez via Facebook.

Equality PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, has made endorsements of three out LGBTQ candidates running for Congress in 2022, including one race in D.C.’s backyard.

Equality PAC Co-Chairs Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) endorsed former Maryland State Delegate and former gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.) in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District against Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris; the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, a Buncombe County Commissioner and former head of the Campaign for Southern Equality, in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District against Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn; and Arizona State Rep. Daniel Hernandez for the Arizona 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who recently announced she would not seek re-election.

Equality PAC’s mission is to supports out LGBTQ candidates seeking office, thereby increasing elected representation, as well as allies who have pledged to ensure full civil rights and protections for all LGBTQ Americans. Chief among the goals that endorsed candidates must prioritize is passage of the Equality Act, a sweeping, comprehensive piece of legislation that would enshrine legal protections for LGBTQ people in various areas of life, including employment, credit, housing, and public accommodations.

Mizeur, a former two-term state delegate who represented the Takoma Park and Silver Spring area from 2006 to 2014 but now resides on a farm in Chestertown, on the Eastern Shore, amassed a decidedly progressive record while also managing to achieve some key bipartisan compromises with her Republican colleagues during her time in the General Assembly. One example of this was passage of a family planning bill that increased access to contraception for low-income women while reducing the number of abortions in the state.

Mizeur previously served as domestic policy director for former U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and was the principal architect of his 2004 presidential campaign’s health care reform agenda.

Following her defeat in the Democratic primary for governor in 2014, Mizeur exited the political arena, vowing not to seek office again. She founded Soul Force Politics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the divisions in American politics and civic life. She has decried many of Harris’s recent votes, notably one he cast to overturn the results of the 2020 election, even after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to prevent certification of Joe Biden as president, on Jan. 6.

“Witnessing a treasonous insurrection against the citadel of our democracy, with the express encouragement of those bound by a constitutional oath to protect it, is an unforgivable betrayal,” Mizeur said in her first campaign video, according to The Baltimore Sun. “Andy Harris’s actions on that day alone disqualify him from representing Maryland’s 1st District.”

Her bid for office has since been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin and Anthony Brown (her former rival for the governor’s seat), State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and former U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, who lost the Republican primary for the seat to Harris in 2008.

Related: Heather Mizeur announces challenge to Congressman Andy Harris

Beach-Ferrara, an ordained minister and two-term Buncombe County Commissioner, has used her position to fight for access to early childhood education, help for those suffering from opioid addiction, and create well-paying jobs for people in Western North Carolina. As the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, she advocated for marriage equality and has spoken out against several pieces of harmful legislation targeting members of the LGBTQ community. She previously served on the Biden Foundation’s Advisory Council for Advancing LGBTQ Equality.

Hernandez, a first-generation college student and state representative, previously interned for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Hernandez was credited with helping save the congresswoman’s life by administering first aid to her after immediately after she was struck by a bullet in an assassination attempt during a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a local grocery store. Six people were killed and 12 others were injured in the mass shooting.

Hernandez later worked on reproductive rights issues, serving as program manager for Raíz, Planned Parenthood’s Latino outreach program. He was elected to his local school board, becoming the youngest school board president in the district’s history. He later ran and was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives in 2016, where he became one of the founders of the Arizona Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus.

Related: Married lesbian minister will challenge Rep. Madison Cawthorn in 2022

“Each of these stellar candidates are battle-tested and are ready to serve their constituents and alongside us in the House of Representatives,” Takano and Cicilline said in a statement. “Heather and Jasmine are strong leaders in their communities and have watched anti-equality Republican incumbents like Andy Harris and Madison Cawthorn trample over their constituents for their own personal and political gain. They are stepping up to offer their constituents a better deal with a member of Congress that actually fights for the issues that can make a tangible difference in people’s lives — like access to affordable health care and quality education, a living wage, equal rights and opportunities, and much more.

“In Arizona, we are confident that Daniel will build upon the incredible legacy of our friend and colleague Ann Kirkpatrick and that he will being a strong and distinctive voice to the Democratic caucus, both from his experience as a Latino member of the LGBTQ community as well as from his time in public office and the local and state level,” the congressmen continued.

“We know that Heather, Jasmine, and Daniel will be outstanding members of the Equality Caucus, always fighting to ensure full equality for all LGBTQ Americans and we implore voters in each of these districts to send these incredible leaders and changemakers to Congress to fight on their behalf.”

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