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Thursday, Feb. 16 (Washington, D.C.)—Today Huffington Post Live moderated a conversation between Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills and the two openly LGBTQ Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair candidates – South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. The discussion focused on the impact of an openly LGBTQ chair on the party and American politics, and the importance of LGBTQ representation at all levels of government.
It is historic two openly LGBTQ people are running for the chairmanship – the first time in history – and the race comes at a critical time for the party and country. The candidates and Moodie-Mills stressed the significance of the Democratic party considering two openly LGBTQ chairs, while the Republican party promotes the most overtly anti-LGBTQ party platform in history. Bridging the gap between the parties and advancing LGBTQ rights requires more LGBTQ people running for office and other political positions, they argued.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm around trying to be the change we need to see,” said Moodie-Mills. “Currently, we don’t have enough LGBTQ people in government; we don’t even have proportional representation. And we know how much representation matters. We’re expecting to see a huge uptick of people running, especially for state legislative seats, which is the next battleground for LGBTQ rights. At Victory Fund, we’re telling people that our focus should be on building political power. We’ve already changed hearts and minds. Now we need to protect our rights.”
Buttigieg echoed Moodie-Mills’ call for more LGBTQ people to run, saying “we have a long way to go as a country on civil rights, from hate crimes to discrimination in the workplace. We can’t assume just because there are a few LGBTQ elected officials in office, or because we now have marriage equality, that everything is going to be ok.”
Buckley spoke to his personal experience in the New Hampshire state legislature. “The reason New Hampshire was able to pass such monumental legislation is because we always had at least one, if not more, LGBTQ legislators,” said Buckley. “That’s why Victory Fund’s work to get people elected to state legislatures is so important. We only have one openly gay member of the Senate; we only have one openly gay governor. We’re very proud of our Congress people, but we can always have more.”
The DNC vote for the new chair takes place on February 25. The entire Huffington Post Live interview is available here.
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Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute works to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in public office and to provide programming, service, and other support to ensure their success.