How Democrats used their convention to celebrate LGBTQ rights


From LGBTQ politicians delivering speeches, to mentions of violence against transgender people, the Democratic convention worked to represent a wide array of LGBTQ issues.

Throughout the 2020 Democratic National Convention, speakers addressed issues of LGBTQ equality, including progress in queer and transgender people's rights over the past 10 years, LGBTQ diversity in Congress, and continuing violence against transgender people.

On the first night of the convention, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave a keynote address in which he noted gay people's fight for equality.

"Together, we moved this country in a bold new direction, showing that all of us, Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant, yearn for the principles of a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion," Sanders said.

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), talked about a "mass people's movement" to secure social, economic, and human rights, which she said included a "movement striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia."

That same night, three gay politicians made history as the first out LGBTQ keynote speakers at the convention. The speakers, billed as "rising stars" of the party, included Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, and Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia.

Actor Kerry Washington hosted the convention on Wednesday and highlighted the troubling trend of violence against transgender people, following a segment on gun violence.

In that segment, Washington introduced the "change-makers who are using their powers for good, who are working to confront other epidemics we're facing: COVID-19, structural racism, police violence against Black bodies, violence against members of the trans community."

At least 26 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed so far in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In 2019, there were at least 27 such deaths. The majority of the victims were Black transgender women.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also said Wednesday that she was proud of House Democrats' diversity, pointing to last year's House passage of the Equality Act, a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that improves nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Donald Trump has opposed the legislation.

Pelosi celebrated "the most diverse [House] majority in history: more than 60% women, people of color, and LGBTQ."

She added, "We have sent the Senate bills to protect our dreamers, to advance LGBTQ equality, to prevent gun violence, to preserve our planet for future generations, and even more."

And on Thursday, three history-making LGBTQ political leaders spoke on issues of LGBTQ rights.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay woman elected to Congress and first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, said on Thursday evening that all Americans want "the freedom to love who we want."

Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D), the first openly transgender person to be elected and serve in a state legislature, spoke that night as well, saying, "I want to see a president of the United States who can look a trans woman in the eye and tell her her rights are worth protecting."

Pete Buttigieg, a gay man and the former Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, talked about the progress that had been made, such as Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality and protections for LGBTQ workers.

"Just over 10 years ago, I joined a military where firing me because of who I am wasn’t just possible. It was policy. Now in 2020, it is unlawful in America to fire someone because of who they are or who they love. The very ring on my finger, a wedding we celebrated, here where I'm standing, reflects how this country can change," Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said that the day he was born, the idea of an openly gay candidate seeking federal office was "laughable."

"Yet earlier this year, I campaigned for president, often with my husband Chasten at my side, winning delegates to this very convention," he said. 

"Love makes my marriage real," he added. "But political courage made it possible, including that of Joe Biden who stepped out ahead even of this party."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.