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Healey brings Trump resistance to SF

by Sari Staver

When Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sued the Trump administration for the seventh time this month, pundits speculated that the state's top law enforcement official might be eying a run for governor.

"Political moves renew talk of a Maura Healey run for Corner Office in '18" read the October 15 headline in the Boston Herald.

But two days earlier, Healey, a lesbian, told the Bay Area Reporter she had "definitely ruled out" a run for the state's top office. "What I'm doing right now is too important to me" to leave now, she said in an interview at the Fairmont Hotel following an Emily's List luncheon, where she was the keynote speaker.

Healey, a Democrat and the first openly LGBT attorney general in the country, has sued the Trump administration over a variety of issues, including the newly issued rules giving employers the right to deny women birth control coverage by claiming religious or moral objections as well as the changes in the Affordable Care Act that could increase premiums and cut subsidies.

"We will stand with you on the front lines," Healey told the audience, "and we will see Donald Trump in court. We will not back down."

Healey pointed out that she is not opposing the Republican president because he belongs to another political party, but rather because "his actions are illegal and undermine basic American values."

Healey acknowledged that she intends to continue in politics, but plans to run for state attorney general for at least one more term. In her first election, in 2014, Healey defeated former state Senator Warren Tolman in the Democratic primary and then defeated Republican attorney John Miller in the general election.

In that election, she said in response to a question, being a lesbian did not seem to affect the vote. "But then, I have nothing to compare it to," she said, noting that this was the only time she ran for elected office.

When she ran for office three years ago, there was another topic that sparked a lot of interest among Massachusetts voters: her two-year stint as a professional basketball player in Austria.

"I did that for two years and then decided it was time I got a real job," she said.

Healey described her life growing up in a small town in New Hampshire. Following her parents' divorce, her mom sold her wedding ring to raise cash so that Healey and her brothers would have a place to play basketball, she said.

"If you work hard and if you play by the rules and get a few opportunities, anything is possible," said Healey.

Healey thanked the audience for their involvement with Emily's List, "a group that really matters," she said.

Emily's List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.

"They have been able to convince women - myself included - that they have a chance to win," Healy said of the national organization. "When I first thought about becoming 'the people's lawyer,' I wondered if it was a crazy idea. But it was Emily's List - and some of the people in this room - who gave me the confidence to run."

Alexandra De Luca, Emily's List press secretary, said that while the organization doesn't have "hard statistics on the number of LGBTQ women in our pipeline," it has made a "concentrated effort to elect more LGBTQ women up and down the ballot."

"Just this cycle, we have endorsed Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual member of Congress, for her run for the U.S. Senate," De Luca wrote in an email, adding that Emily's List had backed Sinema for her House races.

She said that the group has supported out Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), who faces re-election next year, and Danica Roem, a trans woman who is running this November for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates against an anti-trans candidate.

Before she was attorney general, Healey, 46, served as chief of the office's civil rights division, where she spearheaded the state's challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

She was then appointed chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau and then chief of the Business and Labor Bureau before resigning in 2013 to run for attorney general. The previous attorney general, Martha Coakley, ran for governor but was defeated by Republican Charlie Baker.

Healey lives in Charlestown with her partner, Gabrielle Wolohojian, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

While some days can be dispiriting to women, times when "all of us feel overwhelmed by the barrage" of announcements from the Trump administration, Healey said that overall, she finds inspiration "everywhere."

When attending town halls in Massachusetts, she said, "I meet people with an energy and a vigor that I've never seen before."

"I also think back to the Women's March" earlier this year, she said. "I recall what Gloria Steinem said. The Constitution doesn't begin with 'I the president' but with 'We the people.'"

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