How Tuesday’s DNC speaker lineup was the most pro-LGBT ever
September 05, 2012
Last night marked the official kick-off of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, when thousands of Democrats came together to talk about their vision for the United States of America, rally behind President Barack Obama's reelection bid, and support the campaigns of other candidates from the Democratic Party.
The Democrats officially ratified their national party platform, which for the first time includes outspoken support for the freedom to marry. The Democratic Party is now the first major U.S. party to endorse the freedom to marry for all couples in their platform. Freedom to Marry has been working all year on "Democrats: Say I Do," our campaign to encourage the Democrats to support the freedom to marry in their platform. Now, after such a landmark, historic success, we want to send them a letter with 50,000 signatures saying "THANK YOU" for their courageous support. Please join us in thanking the Democrats by SIGNING THIS LETTER.
The unveiling of the national party platform wasn't the only historic step forward last at last night's convention. We also saw one of the most pro-LGBT, pro-marriage slate of Democratic speakers ever take the stage and talk about how we can make this country better. It was almost unbelievable to see that speaker after speaker after speaker was an outspoken LGBT ally or openly gay or lesbian themselves. From First Lady Michelle Obama's family-affirming statement that "If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely - surely - we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream," to Colorado Representative Jared Polis' reference to his loving partner and their child, to Glee star Amber Riley singing the National Anthem - nearly every minute of last night's kick-off featured pro-marriage advocates.
Check out how last night's speakers have stood up for the freedom to marry or for the LGBT community:
- Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States: In addition to referencing same-sex couples and the freedom to marry in her rousing, near-universally praised personal speech, the First Lady has consistently championed LGBT families this summer. This morning, she'll be addressing an LGBT luncheon sponsored by a number of LGBT organizations.
- Julián Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas: Last night, Castro explicitly pointed to GOP nomineee Mitt Romney's failure to support the LGBT community by saying, "When it comes to letting people marry whomever they love, Mitt Romney says, 'No.'" Castro, who was the first San Antonio mayor to serve as grand marshall of the city's Pride parade, was also one of the first mayors to sign onto our Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
- Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland: In March 2012, Gov. O'Malley signed the freedom to marry into law in Maryland after it passed out of both houses of the state legislature. He has since been a vital part of the ballot campaign to uphold the freedom to marry for all couples in his state.
- Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts: Patrick, who succeeded Mitt Romney as governor in Massachusetts, stood as a stark contrast to the former governor with regard to LGBT support. He said, "Today in Massachusetts, you can also marry whomever you love. We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs, including out of a woman's decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and everybody's decision about whom to marry."
- Kal Penn, Former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement: The Harold and Kumar actor made several comments about the LGBT community during his speech last night, saying that he's inspired to campaign for President Obama by his friend Kevin's boyfriend and by the successful repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
- Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago: Emanuel was one of the first mayors to sign onto our Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
- Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island: Earlier this year, Gov. Chafee signed an executive order mandating that all state agencies in Rhode Island recognize all lawful marriages for same-sex couples performed outside of Rhode Island. He also signed into law the bill approving civil unions for same-sex couples in July of 2011.
- James E. Clyburn, House Assistant Democratic Leader and Representative from South Carolina: In May, Clyburn said he believes the freedom to marry should be adopted nationwide as a national policy, rather than a state-by-state policy. He also spoke about his personal journey on marriage, saying, "I have evolved to a point of marriage equality. I have not always been there. I grew up in a parsonage, a fundamentalist Christian parsonage, and I grew up with that indoctrination. And I have grown to the point that I believe that we have evolved to marriage equality."
- Jared Polis, Representative from Colorado: Polis, who is openly gay, spoke last night about his personal story of being a father in a same-sex relationship. He championed President Obama for being "the first sitting president in American history to show his personal support for same-sex marriage" and said, "I don't just ask my fellow Americans to respect my relationship with my partner Marlon and my role as a father to our son - I also ask them to respect the Christian family concerned about decaying moral values and crass commercialism. ... We celebrate Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs, because this is their future, too."
- Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader from Nevada: Reid, a devout Mormon, said he supports the freedom to marryin May. He said, "In a civil society, I believe that people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it's no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married."
- Anthony R. Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina: The mayor of the DNC's host city was vocally opposed to Amendment One in North Carolina in April, saying, "My hope is that it's defeated. [It] thrusts North Carolina in a middle of a culture war at a time when all of us need to be focused on job creation, education and investments in infrastructure."
- Tim Kaine, Candidate for U.S. Senate from Virginia: Kaine brought specific visibility to the LGBT community last night by specifically stating, about President Obama's record, "He promised he'd fight for equal pay for women, college affordability for students, and fair treatment for LGBT Americans - and he's kept his word."
- Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois: Gov. Quinn has announced that he'd like to be able to sign a bill allowing the freedom to marry in Illinois. He said in June, "We're moving forward. The key is to get a majority in both houses of the legislature to get a bill on my desk I can sign. I think we're closer every day."
- Nydia M. Velázquez, Representative from New York: Velázquez has been an unwavering force in LGBT advocacy, voting for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," against a constitutional amendment to limit the freedom to marry, and against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. She was also a co-sponsor for the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act, and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.
- Charles Gonzalez, Representative from Texas and Chair of Congressional Hispanic Caucus: Gonzales was the first member of Texas' congressional delegation to sign onto our Democrats: Say I Do campaign to encourage the Democrats to approve a plank supporting the freedom to marry.
- Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union: Henry, who is openly gay, is the first female to ever serve as the International President of the SEIU, one of the largest unions in the world. She used her speech last night to criticize Mitt Romney for his poor business acumen and says that he would be wrong for the United States.
- Bev Perdue, Governor of North Carolina: Gov. Perdue urged voters in her state to reject Amendment One, which banned marriage and all forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
- Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ: Booker was one of the first mayors to sign onto our Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
- Claudia Kennedy, Retired Lieutenant General: Kennedy, a retired three-star general of the U.S. military, was an outspoken proponent of overturning the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
- Barbara Lee, Representative from California: Lee has advocated for the LGBT community consistently throughout her tenure as a representative for California's 9th district. She has condemned Proposition 8, applauded the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and brought visibility to Pride Month.
- Andrew Tobias, Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee: Tobias, who is openly gay, spoke last night about what it was like for him to grow up as a gay teenager. He said, "In college, I thought I was the only guy in the world who liked other guys. Later, I found there was someone else like me, our 26-year-old resident tutor. The progress we have made! Eight weeks ago, I attended that young tutor's wedding - to a guy!"
- Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip from Maryland: In May, Hoyer announced his support for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, moving beyond his previously announced support for civil unions.
- Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles: Villaraigosa is one the chairs of our Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
- Kamala D. Harris, State Attorney General of California: In 2003, Harris became the first female District Attorney in San Francisco. Since then, she has been a longtime supporter of the freedom to marry, saying in 2009, "I wholeheartedly believe that equal marriage rights for all will soon be the law of the land."
- Stephen J. Kerrigan, Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee: Kerrigan is the first openly gay man to hold the position of DNC CEO. He has made prominent statements about the party platform and its turn toward inclusion for the LGBT community.
It's incredible to be such support from one lineup of speakers. This group of people has truly worked on the behalf of the LGBT community and have become fierce proponents of the freedom to marry.
Join us in saying "thank you" to the Democrats for finally taking this historic step forward in announcing their official, national support for marriage for all loving and committed couples. SIGN THE LETTER.