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LGBTQ Equality Takes Center Stage at 2016 Democratic National Convention

by Hayley Miller July 29, 2016

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week was one for the history books.

The convention kicked off Monday with a historic number of openly-LGBTQ delegates along with a host of pro-equality speakers. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, and First Lady Michelle Obama spoke and surrogates for both Senator Sanders and Hillary Clinton stressed the need to pass the federal Equality Act so that LGBTQ people across the nation can finally live free from fear of discrimination.

On Tuesday, Democrats made history, nominating the first female presidential candidate in Hillary Clinton, a leader with the most pro-LGBTQ agenda of any candidate who has run for president. Following his spouse’s historic nomination, President Bill Clinton noted Secretary Clinton’s 2011 speech in Geneva, where she declared, “gay rights are human rights.” Tuesday also featured a lineup of speakers building on the convention’s strong pro-equality theme. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called out anti-equality lawmakers in his state for trying to write discrimination into state law. Actors Lena Dunham, America Ferrera and Debra Messing gave Hillary Clinton their nod as the candidate of inclusion and unity.

During the roll call vote Tuesday, Supreme Court marriage equality plaintiff Jim Obergefell of Ohio and first openly-lesbian U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin cast their state delegation votes for Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, for the first time in 12 years, a person living with HIV addressed a major political party. Daniel Driffin, a 30-year-old native of Atlanta, Georgia, took center stage, speaking about HIV & AIDS advocacy.

President Obama then opened his inspiring speech by saying, “Love has no limits, and marriage equality is the law of the land.” During his address, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine honored LGBTQ champion Harvey Milk, saying, “Martin had a dream… Harvey gave his life.”

Christine Leinonen, the mother of Drew Leinonen, who was among 49 LGBTQ people and allies killed in the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last month, made an emotional plea for gun violence prevention.

The same day, Chelsea Clinton condemned so-called “conversion therapy” during a luncheon for LGBTQ delegates hosted by HRC and Victory Institute.

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton officially addressed the convention as the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major party where she renewed her promise to fight for LGBTQ equality. HRC’s Sarah McBride made history of her own when she became the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention. Sarah shared her personal journey as a transgender woman, reflecting on the events that made her such an amazing advocate for equality, and calling on the country to join her in the fight. HRC President Chad Griffin, a vice chair of the convention, also spoke, calling out Donald Trump’s dangerous anti-LGBTQ record and thanking Hillary Clinton for her tireless efforts to affirm that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

Paid for by Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 

Hayley Miller
Hayley Miller


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