Politicians Show Support for Marriage Equality at EV’s Commonwealth Dinner
Saturday’s Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner was an opportunity for citizens to mingle with heavy political hitters in a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that is rarely offered in Richmond. Senator Mark Warner, Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe, Congressman Jim Moran, and many local and state officials were on site to show their support for the fight for equality. The sold out event boasted it’s largest attendance in the event’s history with 1000 people from around the state.
Politicians did not waste time getting their message across to the crowd. Virginia Senator Mark Warner spoke early in the evening. He reaffirmed his support for same-sex marriage after saying it was his daughters that really inspired him to make the change. ”Any committed couple that love each other aught to have protection in the law and no one should have that relationship ruled ‘second class’,” said Warner to resounding applause.
Senator Mark Warner
He mentioned VA’s checkered past with LGBT friendly laws, citing the state’s law makers more often becoming punchlines rather than history makers. ”Sometime’s VA is not known for it’s steps forward…. we’re not seen as a leading light, but rather the butt of John Stewart jokes.”
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe was on site, shaking hands and making his stance on marriage equality clear. ”I came out early (for marriage equality) because i thought it was the right thing to do…” McAuliffe had been known for his support for civil unions up until a few months ago when he made his new declration for marriage equality via GChat, a less official, but still public method.
McAuliffe promised to follow in past democratic Governor’s footsteps, making equal protections for state employees a day one priority. “My first executive order will be the same as Gov. Warner and Kaine, to outlaw any discrimination in Virginia based upon any issue… I want to make sure we’re open and welcoming to everybody. And you can’t do that if you put walls up around Virginia and you discriminate based on sexual orientation…”
But McAuliffe made clear it would not be an easy race – Cuccinelli is currently leading in state-wide polling numbers, and McAuliffe lack of political experiences (outside of fundraising) could make things a challenge in the coming months.
“This is going to be a long tough fight… I’m gonna make this the most welcoming place for business and to raise your family…,” said McAuliffe.
Equality Virginia also took time to honor a few Virginia Residents for the impacts they had made on LGBT issues recently, and through out history. Honorees included Congressman Jim Moran, Activists Ted Heck and Guy Kinman, the publishers of “Our Own Magazine, and several others.
The Outstanding Virginians award was greeted with wide applause as these pioneers for LGBT rights were given individual awards for their service.
Finally, wrapping up the evening, Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker spoke. Before he began his speech, Booker helped to raise funds by promising to match donations to EV up to $1000, and offered to ”meet them in the corner for a kiss.” Booker went on to explain “I’m a politician, I’ll prostitute myself for a kiss…”
Booker, who has a resume of professional and personal experiences that make the average mayor look like a street thug, wowed the crowd for 30 minutes with personal stories, jokes, and claims of support for LGBT equality. ”There is a spirit in this room that comes form our history – you might be more nicely dressed… but you have the same spirit they had in church basements where they turned fear into fuel and fire, challenging this nation to recognized equality laws,” said Booker. “It is this defiance that has the curage to stare the law of the land in the face and say ‘you are wrong.’”
Booker often compared the modern struggle for LGBT equality to the civil rights fight of the 60′s. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and other important activists that made impacts in our country that are still being felt today. “Each and every one of us making that decision to never except an unjust country, never to relent to inequality, never to be satisfied with anything less than liberty, and justice for all… that is the cause that calls upon our conciseness right now.”
You can see a more Photos from the event, including many local RVA politicians, here.
“We’re stopping people from doing things that discriminate against people’s basic rights.”February 8, 2017
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