David Gill is a first-time candidate running for Congress and an unlikely politician. The ER doctor is aiming for the 13th Congressional District, which includes Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Bloomington-Normal and Springfield.
Gill told Windy City Times it was healthcare reform that drove him out the front door and onto the campaign trail, but he is also focused on environmental issues and on combatting corporate greed.
Moreover, Gill is a pro-LGBT candidate, and he sat down with Windy City Times recently to talk about why.
Windy City Times: What do you want people to know about you?
David Gill: I'm running for Congress because I care about the well-being of my fellow man and woman. It's the same reason I decided when I was 6 years old to go into medicine. At age 6, I found a passion within myself, a desire to serve my fellow man and woman and to try to make their lives better. Corny though it may sound here in 2012, I retain that passion, and it's that passion that drives me to try to get Washington.
WCT: How do make the jump from physician to politician?
David Gill: It's all problem-solving, and especially working in the emergency room. It's a very chaotic set of circumstances, and you have to learn to think on your feet and think quickly, and I think to be a good doctor, you have to have a big heart and have a passion for improving things for people. So, at first blush, they're two different things, but at the end of the day I think it's all about serving your fellow man and woman.
The vast majority of the people that you have in Washington, they're there for the well-being of United Healthcare and Shell Oil and Pfizer and the Wall Street banks, and to serve those types of masters doesn't do ordinary people any good.
WCT: Are you talking about Democrats as well as Republicans?
David Gill: Yes. I'm a Democrat. I think one party is far worse than the other, but the vast majority of the current occupants of Congress are funded by the large multinational corporations and the Wall Street banks.
WCT: On your website, you talk about tackling extremism in terms of reproductive rights. How do you plan to take that on?
David Gill: You know, the opposition has been pushed for a long time by the religious right. It's become an ever-larger part of who they are as a party. As far as fighting back against it, I think all you have to do is open peoples' eyes to what it is that we're talking about. The opposition has really done the work for us in terms of opening eyes and letting people know that these things are always at risk.
WCT: You are running a pro-LGBT campaign. As I understand it, you have seen some of the burdens placed on LGBT couples in the hospital. Is there a specific instance in your mind that stands out?
David Gill: I can think of one time. … Somebody was near the end of life and their longtime partner wanted to have some say in the management of their care. The hospital administration said, "Well, who are you? You don't have standing with us, and we'll instead talk to a brother or sister or mom or dad." There was a pushing of this person off into a cornerthis person who was the main partner of the dying individual in question. It's one of the reasons why you need full civil rights for everybody, because it's not something that should have happened. And yet it does happen all the time.
WCT: What do you see as the most pressing issues facing LGBT people right now?
David Gill: Well, I think [it's] marriage, which I've been talking about for a long time. I think some people saw the movement towards civil unions as a step in the right direction, but I think the majority of individuals have come to recognize it as that "separate but equal" place that really is not a sufficient answer for people.
I think that discrimination within the workplace is an important issue.
I think there's a role for the federal government to play in terms of these things. You've got an atrocious lawthe Defense of Marriage Actthat I think needs to be repealed.
A lot of times too you speak to individuals worried about having their partners being deporting or having difficulty in adopting children from oversees, things that straight couples don't have to give too much time or attention or thought to.
WCT: Where would you prioritize HIV/AIDS funding?
David Gill: Very, very high. It remains a devastating problem for large numbers of people. We still see them where I work. We see people that have difficulty accessing the system, accessing appropriate treatment. Prevention programs have been woefully underfunded for a long long time, and this obviously cuts across all orientations. Given the scope of the problem, it's something that we must fully invest ourselves in.
WCT: Beyond LGBT issues, what are your priorities in Congress?
You know, thematically speaking, not taking the money from the multinational corporations and the Wall Street banks. I would like people to come to recognize that we don't have to put up with that. So, priority number one is reducing, in some wee little way, the cynicism that just fills this country with respect to what politics and government are all about.
WCT: Why, as a first-time candidate are you running for Congress? Why not start smaller?
David Gill: I've been asked that question many times. I think an appropriate healthcare program has to be done at the national level. So, that was my goal initially in trying to get to Washington and provide some leadership at the federal level.
More information on Gill's campaign is available at www.gill2012.org .