From today’s edition of Innewsweekly:
Meet Tim Flaherty
If elected to senate, promises to fight for full equality for transgender community
by Chuck Colbert
August 09, 2007
Five candidates, including Tim Flaherty, the son of former House speaker Charles Flaherty. have stepped forward to fill the Senate seat (representing Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex counties) left vacant by Jarrett Barrios after he resigned to join Blue Cross Blue Shield earlier this year.
A successful trial lawyer and former Norfolk County prosecutor, Flaherty makes his case up front and personal; is open, direct, and personable; and thinks he should get the gay vote, if not for his support of full equality than because he’s determined to see passed hate crime legislation to protect transgender persons.
“It almost bordering on misunderstanding” or “oversight,” Flaherty said, of the non-existentent protections in place for transgender persons. That Massachusetts progress lags behind that of Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine (in the New England region), as well as Iowa, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Hawaii, among other states across the U.S, is inexcusable. He supports a bill co-sponsored in the House by state Reps. Carl M. Sciortino, Jr., (D-Malden), and Byron Rushing, (D-South End), that would ensure uniform and explicit protection under the state’s hate crimes laws and ant-discrimination laws (housing, employment, credit, and public accommodations and education) by adding the words “gender identity or expression.”
Bringing transgender equality to Massachusetts, Flaherty said, “is common sense.”
As a trial attorney, Flaherty explained during a recent interview, he came to understand clearly how transgender persons become “convenient targets of hate.” Equally disturbing? The negative impact hostility and hate motivated-violence inflicts upon their “quality of life.”
Flaherty’s straight talk and passion has impressed activist Don Gorton, also a long-time gay community leader, who is out front early to endorse him. “Tim Flaherty possesses the same leadership skills and progressive vision that his father ¦used to win passage of the lesbian/gay civil rights law in the 1980’s,” said Gorton this week by e-mail. “He would be an outstanding successor to Jarrett Barrios, and can keep our issues on the front-burner in the Senate with his personal and political stature.”
Along with Flaherty’s commitment to the transgender-inclusive House bill, Gorton says Flaherty’s “energetic outreach to the GLBT community [indicates a] willingness to work and closely cooperate with GLBT advocates on Beacon Hill if he wins.”
Born and raised in Cambridge, Flaherty attended the city’s public schools and eventually graduated from Boston College High School. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston College, as well as his law degree from BC’s law school.
Education, he said, was a Flaherty family value.
“I know that the single most important criteria to a person’s success in life is educational opportunity,” he said. “I want to make sure that every kid has the opportunity for a high quality education.”
Flaherty sees education operating in “sync” with job growth, health care reform, affordable housing, and public safety measures “to create a cycle, virtual cycle in life that allows citizens to progress to a higher quality of life.” To make such education a reality, Flaherty said, if elected senator he would ensure the state funds its mandates adequately and eliminate fees for special programs, among other initiatives.
His candidacy for state Senate is not Flaherty’s first run for public office. In 1998 he ran for Middlesex County district attorney, losing to Martha Coakley, now attorney general.
“I learned a lot about politics, myself and the operation of a campaign,” he said.
Why would a successful trial lawyer want to leave his private practice for public service?
“Deval Patrick,” says Flaherty, summarizing his reasons with only two words. Patrick, said Flaherty, re-energized and reawakened his interest in politics.
“These are historic times in Massachusetts politics [with] an opportunity to take part in massive change,” said Flaherty. “I think [such change] is going to occur. Seeing that and recognizing that, knowing who I am and what I believe in, I know I can be a positive contributor to that change.”
The special primary election date is Tues, Sept. 11, for the Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex district, which winds like a river from Boston’s Alston-Brighton neighborhood over the Mass. Turnpike to Inman Square, Cambridge, and Union Square Somerville, then into Charlestown, Everett, and Chelsea, on to a strip of Revere, into Saugus. ?