Kyrsten Sinema is a Democrat from Phoenix who has resigned her seat in the Arizona state senate to run for the state’s new 9th Congressional District. She is a bisexual with a history of advocacy for gay rights. She is also a non-theist of some variety who openly participated in a 2010 event marking the creation of Secular Coalition for America’s first state affiliate, in Arizona. That same year she spoke to the Humanist Society of Greater Pheonix. Last year The Center for Inquiry gave her their “Award for the Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy”. She has a Twitter account and a Facebook page. She has written a book called Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions That Win and Last. Her campaign website is here. In a 2005 interview she attributed her initial interest in politics to her vehement opposition to the politics of the Mormons:
I was just born involved in politics. My family is conservative Mormon, and so I was born – although the Mormon faith is not inherently political, their faith requires some political stands, and those are ones that I happen to disagree with vehemently – so I was just political from a very early age. But I think my political views really became sharper and more solidified during my eight years as a social worker, when I practiced in the Sunnyslope community. One of the things that I found on a daily basis is that I was really hampered in my ability to assist the community and to help people work toward self-sufficiency, which I think is the ultimate goal of social work, to help people until they’re able to become self-sufficient, and then they don’t need your services. I felt like my hands were tied in providing that service because of the political structure, society and the law weren’t allowing me to have the space to create the self-sufficiency for my clients.
Here’s video of her in action, defending science:
Center for Inquiry described the award they gave her and its justification in their announcement last spring:
The award recognizes legislators who support public policy based on scientific thinking, evidence, and reason while maintaining church-state separation and promoting civil rights. Sinema is receiving the award in recognition of her work to protect women’s rights and the separation of church and state, as well as for her support of LGBT rights, science-based sex education, and sound environmental policies. The award will be announced formally March 12, 2011, during a CFI-sponsored conference on “Fostering a Secular Society: Keep Religion Out of Government,” a day of lectures and discussions in Tucson, Arizona. (Senator Sinema will not be present March 12, but will receive the award in person at a later date.)
Sinema was elected to the Arizona Senate in November 2010 after serving three terms in the Arizona House of Representatives. She has worked on initiatives in Arizona and around the country for a number of years and in 2006 chaired Arizona Together, the first and only successful effort in the country to defeat a same-sex marriage ban ballot initiative. In 2008, she chaired Protect Arizona’s Freedom, the coalition that defeated Ward Connerly’s effort to place an initiative on the state ballot to eliminate equal opportunity programs.
“Senator Sinema’s efforts to support civil rights and to prevent religious doctrine from influencing public policy are confirmed by her advocacy both within and outside of the legislature and in her passion for reasonable laws,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI president & CEO. “She has a strong voice on both the state and national level and her legislative efforts are aligned with CFI’s mission.”
Relatedly, for my in depth philosophical defenses of political secularism and gay rights, see the posts below!
On LGBT issues: