This week I talked with Sarah Schmidt, Chair of the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC), which was founded in July 2012 by committed activists and donors to positively influence the current political and social landscape in this country. LPAC's agenda is to give lesbians a real and meaningful seat at the political table. During the 2012 election LPAC raised over $700,000 to support candidates who supported LGBT issues.
I talked to Sarah about how LPAC is making a true impact for lesbians in politics, and about her spin on LGBT issues. When asked about her personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, she said:
I grew up in a really awesome, supportive family. When I came out to them in my early 20s, there were very few ruffled feathers. I enjoyed an enormous amount of support from everyone, from my parents to my siblings to my great uncles and my grandma. I realized early on that this was a unique situation. I mean, this was the 1990s, and Ellen DeGeneres had just come out on her show, and Melissa Etheridge was just on 20/20. I realized my life was pretty easy and things were pretty smooth for me compared to a lot of people that I knew and a lot of stories I was reading. I felt I really needed to do something from the very beginning; I felt like I kind of had to use that support. If I had all these people who had my back, I felt an obligation to do something more significant with my time and energy and resources to advocate for people who didn't have the same experience. It was really Kate Kendell who helped me engage more significantly politically and talked to me about how my political work could impact my overall goals, and she helped me get involved with the Gill Action Fund. I've gotten very involved with the Illinois Unites for Marriage Coalition, our whole marriage equality push here where I live in Chicago; I've devoted a lot of my time and resources to that. But I would say that LPAC is really the first thing that I've done that has required as much time from me on the equality spectrum, and certainly the most visible thing I've done to date.
Sarah Schmidt is the founder and principal of Sarah Schmidt Consulting LLC and is also actively involved in her family's third-generation business, U.S. Venture, Inc., where she serves on the board of directors. LPAC supports candidates who champion a range of issues that impact lesbians and their families. For example, it is devoted to ending discriminatory treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their families; supporting sexual and reproductive freedom and women's access to quality health care; and furthering social, racial and economic justice for all Americans. Its supporters include Billie Jean King, Jane Lynch, Laura Ricketts, and Alix Ritchie, and it was conceptualized by Urvashi Vaid.
For more information on LPAC, visit teamlpac.com.
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