Mayoral candidate Martin J. Walsh released Friday what he called a comprehensive platform to protect gays and lesbians, including designated “safe spaces” for gay youths in schools, transitional housing for homeless youth, and better training for police officers who handle domestic violence.
Walsh unveiled the policies at his Jamaica Plain field office, as he stood with several gay and lesbian supporters who said he was a crucial behind-the-scenes player in the fight to defend gay marriage in the Legislature.
Wearing a rainbow-colored campaign sticker, Walsh, a state representative, said he is somewhat frustrated by the perception that, because he is a former trade union official from Dorchester, he may be more socially conservative than his opponent, Councilor at Large John R. Connolly. He and his gay and lesbian supporters said he always has been a staunch advocate of same-sex marriage, as well as transgender rights legislation, HIV and AIDS programs, and gay and lesbian youth services.
Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said that when many lawmakers were fighting to ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts after it was legalized by the Supreme Judicial Court in 2004, Walsh lobbied his more conservative colleagues not to support the ban. She said Walsh took 25 votes over seven years to defend gay marriage, even though his church and many of his constituents opposed such unions.
“He jumped into the trenches, literally, and he fought side by side with us, and he did so at great political cost,” Isaacson said. “He was, literally and truly, a profile in courage.”
State Representative Elizabeth Malia, a Jamaica Plain Democrat who is openly gay, echoed the sentiment, saying, “He was an instrumental part of that victory for our community.”
Walsh’s platform includes the creation of “comprehensive, age-appropriate” sex education programs in middle and high schools, the hiring of a liaison to the gay community in the Boston public schools, and the development of a city policy to protect transgender students.
“We’ve come a long way in this city,” Walsh said, “but we still have a long way to go.”
Union endorses Walsh
Mayoral candidate Martin J. Walsh has received support from a group of Boston municipal employees.
Local 888 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2,000 city workers, endorsed Walsh Thursday night. The group includes a range of city workers, including some from City Hall, the Neighborhood Development Department, and the commissions overseeing public health, water and sewer, and elderly affairs.
“Marty has promoted legislation to create jobs and more opportunities for women and minorities in Boston’s workforce,” said Local 888 president Mark DelloRusso. “That’s why public service workers are rallying behind Walsh and his progressive, authentic vision for a stronger Boston.”
Walsh, a state representative running against Councilor at Large John R. Connolly, welcomed the support.
“The members of SEIU Local 888 are diverse and hard working,” Walsh said in a statement. “They go to work every day with the goal of helping people and giving their children a fighting chance. That is why I am running for mayor, and that is why I am grateful for the support of these working men and women.”