Mark Levine - Endorsed by DFA
Running for Virginia House of Delegates in VA
Who am I?
I've been a progressive citizen activist for more than 25 years and was elected in 2015 to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. I'm now running for re-election. Since 2003, I have hosted a progressive radio talk show, The Inside Scoop, that now airs in 40+ markets nationwide and have been a guest on national television hundreds of times since 2009, including on the Bill O'Reilly Show and other hostile venues. I'm known for wielding my Constitution to defend progressive values. See videos at www.MarkLevineTalk.com/about.
Born in Nashville, I graduated Harvard with an economics degree and Yale Law School, where I founded the Committee Against Bigotry and led protests against hateful organizations. As an openly-gay trial lawyer, I protested Hollywood in the 1990's (pre-Will and Grace) to put positive gay and lesbian characters on television. I fought Proposition 22 and co-founded Marriage Equality California, the second-earliest state marriage-equality organization in the country. In 2000, I helped elect a progressive Democratic California State Assemblyman who, in turn, introduced a bill I had drafted (the first in the USA!) to ensure equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Our tiny grass-roots group started the Valentine's Day Marriage Protests, which spread across the country.
In 2000, the Congressional Black Caucus hired me to write the legal brief for Congress challenging Bush's Florida Electors. Congressman Barney Frank then hired me as his Legislative Counsel. In 2009, I crafted DC's marriage equality law and defended it in court.
What am I fighting for?
I've known the pain of unjust laws. Following the murder of my sister by her husband, I fought for ten years to bring my ex-brother-in-law to justice and for my parents to obtain custody of my sister’s two children. Tennessee law said that physically abusing--and even murdering--a child's mother was not “child abuse” and therefore could not be taken into account in custody decisions. Arguing domestic abusers “do not make good dads,” I wrote a new bill which included domestic violence as a factor in custody decisions. It unanimously passed the Tennessee legislature.
I've learned the hard way, whether fighting for marriage equality or demanding justice for victims of domestic and sexual violence, that laws are often unjust and that it takes an inside-outside strategy plus single-minded persistence to fix them. Often the most vulnerable people have the fewest advocates. The grass roots must protest from the outside to illustrate the injustice of bad laws, work on relationships with lawmakers and help them craft better laws, and then lobby legislators, one by one, to get bills passed.
I've been an outsider grass-roots advocate, a citizen law-drafter, a Congressional lawyer-staffer, and a Virginia state delegate. I've defended progressive values from FOX News to the Virginia House. I know how to persuade gently in private and passionately in public. I have a history of making a difference for vulnerable populations. I'm running because I know what a small group of dedicated people can do. And I never give up.
My DFA Values
My citizen-activist track record is described above. While Democrats are a minority in the Virginia General Assembly, I've still managed to introduce, craft and help pass bipartisan legislation to protect victims of sexual assault, prohibit cyberstalking, and increase the budget to help abused children. The Firemen's Union brought me a successful bill to allow Emergency Medical Technicians to cross state lines. After a gun store sued protesting citizens, I introduced legislation to protect protesters from businesses who sue to prevent their speaking out, and we succeeded in getting a bi-partisan version of it passed.
Not all successes require legislation. Working with local officials and a federal grant, we brought the first around-the-clock Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners to Northern Virginia. A tea-party Republican and I co-founded the Virginia Transparency Caucus to put a spotlight on the vast majority of legislation crafted and killed in unrecorded committee and subcommittee hearings. Using interns and smart phones, we brought “Cameras to the Committee Rooms” until finally, more than 60% of the General Assembly – a majority in both Houses – agreed to videorecording and recorded votes in these hearings.
My more progressive legislation awaits a Democratic majority. But my bills on Paid Family and Medical Leave, Body Cameras, Gun Background Checks, Raising the Minimum Wage, Expunging Non-Violent Drug Offenses, Decriminalizing Marijuana, Full LGBT Equality, Stopping Predatory Lending, and Requiring Presidential Candidates to Disclose Tax Returns and Foreign Emoluments have brought sorely-needed favorable press to important progressive issues.
With your help, I've only just begun.