As many of you know, my political adventures led me to start a PAC last year. I wanted to break away from the predominant funding mechanisms in North Carolina and start creating a grassroots network of committed progressives. I wanted to build a donor list that would put people who believed in LGBT equality, good government, ethics reform; in short, big-and-little-D democratic values. I wanted to make sure there was an effective voice for young, progressive candidates in our state. So I started the Grassroots Farm Team PAC, opened a bank account, registered with the State Board of Elections, and started raising money.
With a full-time job and finishing my A.B. degree, it's been hard. It hasn't always been fun. However, it's stories like this that make it all worth it.
More below the fold …
Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith is the founder of Scrutiny Hooligans, a progressive blog many of you know. This time last year, he was just a candidate, and he needed our help to put him over the finish line.
Gordon is not shy about his belief in equality. While blogging at Pam's House Blend, he set out what he believes:
The gay and lesbian citizens of Asheville deserve equal recognition and equal benefits. To deny these benefits is to relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status. We all know that Asheville is a gay-friendly city, and our city government ought to reflect our commitment to honoring the civil rights of all our citizens.
It was because of that commitment that we wrote our single biggest check of the year to Gordon. In his own words: “thanks to Sam Spencer and the NC Farm Team. They helped my Asheville City Council campaign just when I needed it most.”
Gordon has gone on to become a great leader on the city council. In a year when regressive forces in Asheville have gone as far as ignoring the Establishment Clause in an attempt to bar an atheist from joining the city council, Gordon has stood up for what he believes in:
Councilman Gordon Smith is asking the council to move forward with the idea of giving same-sex domestic partners health insurance, bereavement leave and other benefits.
If a majority votes yes, city staff would come back to the council at a later date with information including estimated costs and who would qualify. A final vote on the measure could then follow.
Granting the benefits would “provide equal rights to our employees who are denied the option to marry,” Smith said.
He even went on YouTube to make the case:
And then …
After about 90 minutes of public comment and deliberation on Feb. 9, Asheville City Council voted 4-2 to support a motion by Council member Gordon Smith supporting benefits for city employees in same-sex domestic relationships. While the vote does not implement benefits such as health insurance and bereavement leave already afforded to straight married couples, it does mean city staff will conduct a financial impact study and other research and make a recommendation for Council vote in March.
According to Gordon, “There's another round or two to go before final passage, but I'm feeling confident. It's the first movement on equal rights for same-sex couples here in 16 years.”
This time last year, a pro-equality candidate needed help, and the Farm Team was there.
This year, we're shooting a little bigger. We've got a pro-equality candidate who needs your help – Elaine Marshall:
Elaine believes it is not the Federal government’s job to discriminate, including when it comes to sexual orientation. She believes we should honor the commitment of those serving in the military regardless of sexual orientation, and that we should follow the lead of our military leaders and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Elaine supports the repeal of DOMA and the enactment of ENDA and UAFA. She supports eliminating all forms of discrimination under the law, including immigration law.
We need southerners in the Senate who support equality. Elaine Marshall is infinitely better than Burr in every way when it comes to civil rights … and she's a hell of a lot better than many Democrats who are already in the Senate.
We've been doing a lot to get Elaine elected. Our ad campaign against Richard Burr got almost 1,000,000 impressions on facebook this past weekend, and we've got lots of great stuff lined up. And this week we'll be opening a website for an October 8 “MarshallBomb.”
I'm asking Blenders to pitch in $10 to help us get Elaine Marshall elected. We're going to be running an ad campaign to promote the MarshallBomb, while still helping great North Carolina candidates get elected. If you're willing to give more, that's great! We're building the small-dollar donor network that will help us raise the money we need to achieve big victories for young candidates across the state.
(Again, you can also donate to Elaine here).
Thanks for taking the time to read this – I hope we can earn your support!
Grassroots Farm Team PAC