Most politicians end their campaign ads with a shot of their family. Richard Madaleno is no exception.
Madaleno, who is running to be the Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland, devoted his latest ad, "Take That," to how he'd "infuriate" Donald Trump. During the short clip, he rattles off a series of accomplishments, such as standing up for Planned Parenthood, banning assault weapons, and supporting public schools.
The video cuts to a shot of Madaleno and his husband and two children in the closing seconds. He says, "And what's the number one way I can piss off Donald Trump and the Republicans?" before leaning in and kissing his husband.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund called the ad "historic" for featuring a same-sex kiss. And sure, probably.
"At a time when the White House and other anti-LGBTQ politicians are attempting to erase our visibility and rollback our rights, Rich Madaleno is boldly stating he’s proud of his family and will fight for all Marylanders if elected," Annise Parker, president & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said.
"Not long ago, out LGBTQ people were unable to run for statewide offices such as governor, but voters now recognize there is an authenticity to LGBTQ leaders rarely found in today’s politicians. Rich is on-track to win the Democratic primary because of that authenticity, his deep roots in the state, and his 15 years of legislative experience. And it is great to see him share his love for Mark and the kids with voters too — especially in a political ad airing during the president’s favorite television show."
The ad, as Parker hinted, ran in Maryland and the District of Columbia during "Fox & Friends." This really was some top-level trolling. It is worth noting that the number of Republicans who support same-sex marriage is on the rise. There's still a long way to go, however. Pew Research found that in 2017 that 40% of Republicans approve of same-sex marriage, compared to 73% of Democrats.
More LGBTQ representation in government would definitely be an improvement.
Parker, the former mayor of Houston and an out lesbian, raises a really great point about the lack of LGBTQ representation. The Victory Institute (the research arm of the Victory Fund) released a report in Dec. 2017 highlighting just how underrepresented LGBTQ people are in government, noting that they were only aware of 448 LGBTQ elected officials serving in the U.S., just 0.1% of the total. In order to achieve equitable representation, they estimate a need for 21,307 more LGBTQ officials.
Annise Parker speaks during a Family Equality Council event in 2015. Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Family Equality Council.
"Nothing about us without us" and "No taxation without representation" are common themes throughout history touching on people who are underrepresented in an organization or government or who are simply denied a voice entirely. It's hard for LGBTQ people's concerns to be heard without proportionate representation — the same goes for other underrepresented groups, such as people of color. While nobody is suggesting we find a way to elect another 20,000 LGBTQ people immediately, it certainly couldn't hurt to have a few more in positions of power.
It would really be nice to live in a world where two husbands kissing doesn't immediately conjure shock value.
A quick look at comments on the original video shows that there are still people extremely uncomfortable with the idea that LGBTQ people exist. Unfortunately for them, we absolutely do exist. Straight politicians kiss their spouses so often that we hardly notice it (unless it gets awkward, and yeah, sometimes it gets awkward).
Perhaps the confrontational nature ("Take that!") of the kiss in Madaleno's ad makes an important point of defiance to an administration that's been anything but friendly to LGBTQ people since taking power. Let's just hope it doesn't always have to be that way.