MassEquality today announced its endorsement of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the historic race to fill the seat previously held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.
In announcing their endorsement, MassEquality cited Coakley's long-time record of proven leadership on behalf of the LGBT community in Massachusetts, a record that demonstrates her willingness to go beyond the call of duty to fight for equality.
"If the disheartening repeal of marriage equality in Maine earlier this month taught us anything, it's that now more than ever our community needs more than just allies," MassEquality Executive Director Scott Gortikov said. "We need strong leaders who will follow in the footsteps of Senator Kennedy and not rest until we have achieved full equality."
Gortikov went on to praise Coakley's willingness to take a proactive, leadership role on issues of importance to the LGBT community in Massachusetts and around the country.
"Martha Coakley has been a tireless advocate for LGBT equality throughout her entire career, fighting for everything from marriage equality to transgender non-discrimination to prosecution of hate crimes," Gortikov said. "She was also one of the first state-wide elected officials to publicly support the transgender non-discrimination bill, MassEquality's top legislative priority. In addition, her recent lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) clearly proves that she is not afraid to take a lead role on issues of importance to the LGBT community, no matter how controversial they may be."
"I am proud and humbled to receive the endorsement of MassEquality, one of the strongest advocacy organizations for civil rights and equality in our Commonwealth," Attorney General Coakley said. "There is no question that the next Senator from Massachusetts is going to address critical issues for the LGBT community. I can assure you that as Senator I will stand up and advocate for the principles that I have fought for throughout my career -- civil rights, anti-discrimination, and equality for all."
In July, Attorney General Coakley filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. She did so saying that "the time has come for this injustice to end," that DOMA was a discriminatory and unconstitutional and that she was seeking to "remedy the fundamental unfairness that DOMA causes to Massachusetts and its residents by denying those residents equal treatment under the law."
Gortikov also highlighted Coakley's support of the MassHealth Equality bill, which ensured that Massachusetts cover the cost of health care for qualifying low-income and elderly same-sex couples who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid; her work to obtain civil rights injunctions in numerous cases involving hate crimes against members of the LGBT community; her longtime support for efforts to address domestic violence in the LGBT community; and the fact that as Attorney General, Coakley's office has conducted trainings for police departments around the Commonwealth on how better to respond to hate crimes and assist LGBT victims who are especially vulnerable.
MassEquality, an organization of more than 200,000 members, works to protect, promote and defend marriage equality and to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. MassEquality's premise is simple: they believe that every LGBT person deserves to be treated equally, to feel safe, and to be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coakley became Massachusetts' first female Attorney General in January 2007. Since then, she has established herself as a leader on a variety of issues affecting Massachusetts residents, including addressing the foreclosure crisis that has plagued families in Massachusetts. As part of her Cyber Crime Initiative, Coakley revolutionized the tools available to prosecutors for fighting crime in the 21st century, ensuring that Massachusetts is on the cutting edge of public safety.
Coakley, 56, was raised in North Adams. She is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she was a member of the first class admitted to the college that included female students. She received her law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1979. Coakley resides in Medford with her husband, Thomas F. O'Connor, a retired police Deputy Superintendent.