Chuck Wolfe, the president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute, visited the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Oct. 10. Wolfe spoke to the public, including a small part of the student body, in room 221 in the Noel Fine Arts Center at 4:30 p.m.
Wolfe stressed the importance of the LGBT movement in the political spectrum and explained the opportunities offered through his company.
Founded in 1991, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute endorse viable LGBT candidates running for various levels of office across the nation.
“The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute was created to be a political action committee dedicated to electing LGBT people to office,” Wolfe said.
The committee only supports candidates who are openly gay. Wolfe explained that this mission keeps the company focused on activism, advocacy and achievement. It is a waste of time for them to support candidates who feel there is something wrong with being LGBT.
Wolfe was pleased to discuss Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin State Senator who was elected on Nov. 6, 2012. She is the highest-profile LGBT Candidate ever elected to office.
“Tammy being put into office was an eye-opener on the hill,” Wolfe said.
During an interview on Nov. 7, 2012 with CNN, Baldwin said her candidacy was to “make a difference,” not just to make history. Throughout her career, Baldwin was not just the first openly gay politician elected to Congress, but the first Wisconsin woman elected to Senate.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute do not offer support to university level campaigns. Instead they offer Victory Congressional internships to university level students.
The program began four years ago. Almost 300 students apply each semester to participate in the program, but only eight are selected, which makes it a very competitive, sought-after position.
“These are opportunities for college-aged students, still in school, to serve on Capitol Hill,” Wolfe said. “We pay a stipend, provide housing and build a leadership development component into their time in Washington. They will work for a member of Congress four days a week, and on that fifth day they will do some sort of leadership development, public speaking, resume writing, et cetra. It’s all based on what it’s like to work in the public sector.”
Wolfe’s passion for politics began at an early age. He described his experience coming out to his father as a matter of his father moving from asking himself “What did I do wrong as a dad?” to reflecting on his son, saying, “It’s too bad you won’t have a future in politics now.” Of course, Wolfe is anything but a failure.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund & Institute continue to encourage the voice of LGBT politicians and take pride in supporting open, honest and viable candidates. As far as the LGBT voice in politics is concerned, Wolfe’s job is never done nor is the role of LGBT politicians.
“We are not ever going to achieve equality unless we start electing our own community to office,” Wolfe said. “The LGBT movement is never done. Until we are there, the enemies can continue to make us look however they want. There’s always another step and worthy fight that needs to be fought.”