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What a Deval Patrick presidency might mean for LGBTQ equality

What a Deval Patrick presidency might mean for LGBTQ equality

One of the nation’s first African-American governors, Deval Patrick, of Massachusetts, is considering a run for president.

On a speaking-tour stop in Kansas City, Missouri, Patrick acknowledged his interest in a presidential candidacy.

“It’s on my radar screen,” he told KCUR, a public-radio station there. “But it’s a huge decision, and it’s a huge consideration, particularly when I think that I’m still a kid from the south side of Chicago.”

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Patrick, a former civil-rights lawyer and U.S. assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton, served two terms as Massachusetts governor. He now manages Bain Capital’s social-impact fund, after senior executive positions at Texaco and Coca-Cola.

Related: Mass. governor signs tougher LGBT supportive anti-bullying bill into law 

A friend of former president Barack Obama, Patrick was co-chair of both of Obama’s presidential campaigns. He said he was assessing his role in the next presidential election.

“My current focus is how I can help candidates in 2018,” he said on KCUR’s “Up to Date.”

Obama and former aides David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett are also encouraging Patrick to run.

So how would a Patrick candidacy mean for LGBTQ voters? Patrick’s personal background and his public background both indicate potential support.

His daughter, Katherine Patrick, came out two years into her father’s first term. She was 19. In 2015, the governor announced his daughter’s engagement to Alisha Lemiuex.

Patrick’s two terms as Massachusetts governor also show a track record for LGBTQ issues. As governor, he stumbled on management problems before finding success in working to overhaul transportation, healthcare and international trade. He helped raise the state’s minimum wage in 2017. He supported an expansion of charter schools in exchange for millions in federal funding.

But one of his biggest achievements on equality was in the state’s battle over same-sex marriage. Just before Patrick’s first inauguration, his predecessor, Gov. Mitt Romney, wanted a legislative vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Patrick opposed the effort. He reached out to activists supporting same-sex marriage. He then worked with legislators before the proposed amendment was defeated in the legislature.

Related: Wins, setbacks mark the path to nationwide marriage equality

On the day the amendment was defeated, Patrick spoke to gay-rights advocates.

“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” he said, in a Boston Globe report. “Today’s vote is not just a vote for marriage equality. It was a vote for equality itself.”

In Kansas City, Patrick stressed constructive political conversations across party lines.

“The fact that someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they are the devil,” Patrick said.

He said Donald Trump wasn’t his candidate, “but he is my president. I am old fashioned in the sense that nobody should cheer for failure. We need our presidents to succeed.”

Yet Patrick challenged Trump’s approach. “I’m concerned about the tone he sets,” Patrick said. “I’m concerned about the lack of clarity in terms of policy direction, the belittling of different or opposing points of view, or individuals who hold them.

“I don’t think that bodes well for the democracy.”

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