A talk about LGBTQ+ Issues with Sean Casten and HRC


Gwendolynne Royle

A cartoon depiction of the zoom call the round-table discussion happened over.

On October 21st, Representative Sean Casten of Illinois’s sixth district, sat down with the Human Right Campaign and his constituents over a Zoom call. The constituents were encouraged to show up with questions concerning Casten’s policies and his plans in the upcoming term regarding the LGBTQ+ community.

The Human Rights Campaign, or the HRC, is an organization that has dedicated itself to ending discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Through its many outreach programs, scholarships and healthcare facility indexes, the HRC has proven to be a resource for those in the LGBTQ+ community searching for help.

Casten was accompanied by Illinois House of Representatives Candidate Ken Mejia-Beal. Mejia-Beal is running for Illinois’s District 42, and if he wins, Mejia-Beal will be the first openly gay member who has ever held the seat. Both men have built their platform on promoting equality, and they promised that their morals will be demonstrated through the way they will be voting.

The HRC is widely known for their Congressional Scorecard. By looking at which congresspeople voted on the issues the HRC has deemed LGBTQ+ issues, they give each congressperson a score. Sean Casten has earned 100% in the last two years and Reneé Woods, the HRC Chicago representative hosting the meeting, started the call by commending him for that “perfect” score.

“You all got to make this test harder next year. I mean, the fact that supporting equality, making sure that people can vote and knowing that Donald Trump is not fit to be president, that’s a pretty low bar,” Casten said.

Casten was very transparent throughout the meeting about his ideas on the current state of our government and what he believes can be bettered.

In some of his opening statements, Casten touched on LGBTQ+ issues as well as many racial issues. He reassured his constituents that America can still make progress, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. Mejia-Beal also spoke on this topic, but related specifically to younger generation Americans:

“While I do think that it is incredible for LGBTQ youth to see folks like myself run for office, I think it’s more important that non-LGBTQ youth see someone like myself run for office,” Mejia-Beal said.

This unpopular take on representation in government gave the constituents a taste of what a lot of Mejia-Beal’s points would be.

Many of Mejia-Beal’s ideas were those stereotypical of more conservative politicians, but with a liberal spin. For example, he stressed how facts should be put over feelings when talking about the importance of looking at a politician’s voting history rather than being surprised by what they say to the public.

He also presented a somewhat controversial take on labels and self-identity, a matter that conservatives often criticize the left for. Many believe that labels are a form of empowerment, but Mejia-Beal emphasized that he wants his job and his policies to come before his labels.

Finally, Mejia-Beal rounded off the night with his ideas on how the only group in America that can relate to everyone in the country is the LGBTQ+ community. He stated that every demographic has people from the LGBTQ+ community, making them a part of every fight against injustice.

“LGBTQ issues are American issues because we are ingrained in the very fabric of America,” Mejia-Beal stated.

These two candidates have certainly gained a following as at the end of the night, many of the constituents partook in a phone bank in order to promote Sean Casten’s campaign.

For more information on how to vote, visit vote.gov.