A two-tour veteran of the Iraq War and graduate of West Point and Harvard University, Anthony Woods, 29, enjoys a solid resume that would make him a good candidate for public office.
But if you have heard of Woods, who is seeking election to Congress from California’s 10th House District, it likely has little to do with his impressive credentials.
Woods has gained notoriety because he is the first openly gay black man to run for Congress.
His run for office has drawn parallels to the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to a public office in California. In 1978, Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned but wanted his job back.
Woods informed military commanders that he was gay and received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on the grounds of “moral and professional dereliction” under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Woods opposes the policy, created by the Clinton White House in 1993.
While Woods makes little to no mention of his sexual orientation on his campaign Web site, he has support from the gay community. Both the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund have endorsed him, calling him a potential advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender issues in the Congress.
It would be a shame if Woods’ sexual preference overshadows his political stance on important topics facing the nation, such as balancing the federal budget and health care and immigration reform.
Ultimately, what will mark Woods as a success will have far more to do with his political savvy, maturity and ability to serve constituents than who he sleeps with.
At this point, he is considered a long shot in the high-profiled contest, which includes California’s Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, state Sen. Mark James DeSaulnier and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.
The election will replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who is leaving Congress to become undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Obama administration.
A multiparty primary election is scheduled for Sept. 1. If no candidate receives at least 51 percent of the vote, a run-off general election will be held Nov. 3 to decide the winner.
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