The Democratic National Convention continues tonight with a lineup of pro-equality speakers including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Former President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has long been a champion of the LGBTQ community, both within the Democratic Party and in Congress, and has earned a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard during her entire congressional tenure. As Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – the only woman to ever hold the powerful office – she made equality a priority, ushering through the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
As a Member of Congress whose district includes San Francisco, Pelosi has focused on combatting the HIV epidemic. She has been at the forefront of harnessing funding for HIV research, shaping the Ryan White Care program for low-income people living with HIV, and removing pre-existing condition limits under the Affordable Care Act so people with HIV and other chronic health conditions have access to quality health care coverage.
Pelosi is also a cosponsor of the federal Equality Act, which establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, public places and services, federal funding, credit, education and jury service.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards
As the president of Planned Parenthood, Richards has been the face of the organization fighting for reproductive rights for all people. Planned Parenthood offers countless health care services to the LGBTQ community -- including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), HIV testing, reproductive health services and more. Planned Parenthood is inclusive, opening its doors to all, “regardless of gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation.”
Attorney General Eric Holder
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder was a fierce ally of LGBTQ Americans. His exemplary leadership was marked by the U.S. Department of Justice’s swift implementation of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Windsor v. United States. The ruling, Holder said, meant that, “Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.” The decision finally gave same-sex couples across the country more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits that previously only flowed to non-LGBTQ married couples. Additionally, in 2014, Holder announced that the DOJ would recognize the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s decision in Macy v. Holder asserting that discrimination based on an individual's gender identity is sex discrimination and violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
President Bill Clinton
President Clinton, husband of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, is tonight’s keynote speaker. President Clinton’s evolution on LGBTQ rights has been well documented: in 2013, he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act -- legislation he signed into law during his presidency:
“We understand that, while our laws may at times lag behind our best natures, in the end they catch up to our core values… I join with the Obama administration, the petitioner Edith Windsor, and the many other dedicated men and women who have engaged in this struggle for decades in urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The combination of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine make for the most pro-equality ticket in history. Hillary Clinton has made LGBTQ equality a pillar of her campaign, including calling it her “highest priority” to pass and sign into law the Equality Act. In addition, she supports the military’s decision ending the ban on open transgender military service, is fighting to outlaw dangerous and debunked “conversion therapy” for minors and is calling for an end to the epidemic of transgender violence. Read more on Clinton’s strong LGBTQ platform and record here.
Running mate Tim Kaine also has a strong LGBTQ record. In addition to supporting marriage equality, Kaine is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act. One of Kaine’s first actions as Virginia Governor in 2006 was to sign an executive order adding sexual orientation protections to the non-discrimination policy for state workers. Kaine also recently signed onto an amicus brief in the 2nd Circuit case, Christiansen v Omnicom Group Inc., arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He has voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
Clinton-Kaine stand in stark contrast with the Republican ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Among his anti-equality positions, Trump has vowed to rescind marriage equality and pledged to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would overturn last year’s historic Obergefell marriage equality ruling. He has pledged to sign the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which could allow individuals, many businesses, and nonprofit organizations to circumvent critical federal protections and blatantly discriminate against LGBTQ families.
Pence, in a now notorious interview with ABC last year, refused to answer eight separate times when asked whether businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Pence became a national disgrace in 2015 for his “license to discriminate” bill -- which threatened to allow businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people -- and for subsequently defending the bill after an outcry from the business community and a majority of Hoosier voters.
Read more on how Trump and Pence would put LGBTQ equality at risk here on HRC’s new “Dump Trump” site.
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