FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, December 10, 2016
Saturday, Dec. 10 (Washington, D.C.)—Today in a conversation moderated by Washington Post editorial board member Jonathan Capehart, a panel of experts and elected officials debriefed what the 2016 election means for LGBTQ equality. The panel included Jessica O’Connell, Executive Director of Emily’s List, Igor Volsky, deputy director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, California State Senator Toni Atkins and newly elected Florida House Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.
O’Connell acknowledged that despite “massive disappointments for Democrats,” the party achieved historic gains this year. “We elected four pro-choice Democratic women to the Senate, and will have more women and more women of color in Congress than ever before.”
However, she cautioned LGBTQ rights may be in peril in the coming administration: “We are now facing one of the most anti-LGBTQ administrations in our lifetimes; whether Ben Carson who doesn’t believe in same-sex adoptions, or Betsy DeVos and Vice President-elect Pence who believe in conversion therapy. Trump and his cabinet have showed us who they are and we should be believe them.”
Carlos Guillermo Smith and Toni Atkins encouraged LGBTQ people to advocate for other communities and Americans living in rural areas who feel they have been left behind.
“I’m worried about mass deportations of the Latino community, worried about what will happen to Muslim Americans as young people in our schools are listening to a message that Muslims and Islam are bad, and that hate speech is rewarded with positions of power. That’s why it’s really important as a minority community that LGBTQ Americans stand in solidarity with other marginalized communities,” said Guillermo Smith.
Added Atkins, “We’re very good at talking about inclusion as it relates to communities, but we have left some people behind. We have got to push for policies that take care of people, to make sure they have homes, decent schools and the ability to work, and it’s incumbent on all of us to take care of those who aren’t necessarily living in progressive, coastal areas.”
Guillermo Smith offered advice for LGBTQ elected officials currently serving: “Be bold and unapologetic.”
The panel was part of the larger three-day Victory Institute International LGBTQ Leaders Conference – which brings together more than 500 LGBTQ elected officials, appointees and leaders determined to continue progress on LGBTQ equality.
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Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute
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.