Sarah McBride made history Thursday, becoming the first transgender person to address a major political party’s convention as she proudly declared her support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
McBride, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, shared her personal story of coming out as transgender and her forays into activism both in her home state of Delaware and on the national level. She memorialized her husband and fellow transgender activist, Andy, who died in 2014, four days after the two married. And she cast the upcoming November election as a crucial choice for the LGBT community.
“Will we be a nation where there is only one way to love, one way to look, and one way to live? Or will we be nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally, a nation that’s stronger together?” said McBride. “That is the question in this election.”
Touting Clinton as someone who “understands the urgency of our fight,” McBride said that the former Secretary of State would fight for LGBT people, such as passing the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals, working to combat violence directed against transgender women of color, and ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Today in America, LGBTQ people are still targeted by hate that lives in both laws and in hearts. Many still struggle just to get by,” McBride said. “But I believe tomorrow can be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected, especially if Hillary Clinton is our president. And that’s why I’m proud to stand here and say that ‘I’m with her.'”
McBride capped off a list of out LGBT speakers at the convention who provided testimony to Clinton’s record of supporting LGBT rights. Also addressing the convention were U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who introduced McBride, and Chad Griffin, the head of HRC.
Maloney, the first openly gay congressman elected from New York, used the opportunity to draw a contrast between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party when it comes to LGBT issues. He offered a counterpoint to a speech at the Republican convention given by Peter Thiel, the gay co-founder of PayPal, who accused the LGBT community of stoking “fake culture wars” that “distract” from the country’s economic decline and asking “Who cares?” when it comes to issues such as transgender people’s ability to access restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
“It’s a beautiful thing when your country catches up to you,” said Maloney, who has been raising children with his partner of 23 years. “And when your basic rights, and your very family, are on the line, it matters what happens in those beautiful buildings with marble columns. It matters who’s leading the country, and it matters if they care.”
Griffin, meanwhile, prosecuted the case against Donald Trump as to why the Republican nominee was an unacceptable choice for the LGBT community. He contrasted Trump’s positions on various issues with those held by Clinton, arguing that Clinton is the better choice to ensure the LGBT community achieves full equality under the law. He also invoked the memory of the 49 people killed in a mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub last month, and condemned Trump’s response to the attack, saying the billionaire mogul “strutted before the cameras and exploited our national tragedy.”
“[Trump] had the audacity to tell the American public that he was the true champion for LGBTQ people in this race, and that our community would be better off with him in the White House,” Griffin said. “While Donald Trump has threatened to strip away our rights, the Hillary Clinton that I first got to know as a closeted kid growing up in Arkansas has always been willing to stand up for the voiceless. And she’s made fighting for equality a cornerstone of her campaign.”
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