At a time when female candidates are taking center stage in the 2018 congressional mid-term election, a quartet of women politicos are set to speak at an upcoming LGBT gala hosted by the Democratic National Committee in New York City, the Washington Blade has learned.
Three of the women — Annise Parker, Gina Ortiz Jones, Maura Healey — are lesbians, and the other, Danica Roem, is a transgender woman. Each of them are running or have run political campaigns of special significance for LGBT people.
All of them will speak before high-dollar donors to the Democratic Party at the DNC’s 19th annual LGBT gala in New York City, which is set to take place June 25 at Ziegfeld Ballroom. The tickets range from $1,200 to $5,000 per seat, according to an online invitation.
Annise Parker, a former three-term mayor of Houston, holds the distinction of being one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. She now serves as executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute.
Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who served in the Iraq war, is running to represent the 23rd congressional district in Texas against incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). Democrats have made her race in the Hispanic-majority district a priority. Hurd narrowly won re-election in 2016 and political observers have rated it as a toss-up.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who’ll be the keynote speaker at the DNC gala, won election in 2014 and became the first openly gay state attorney general in the United States. She’s seeking re-election in the 2018 election.
The other speaker, Virginia State Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William County), is the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature in the United States. The DNC had already announced last month her plan to attend the gala.
Another speaker already announced for the event is Gus Kensworthy, a gay freestyle skier who refused to attend the ceremony at the White House with fellow members of the 2018 U.S. Winter Olympic team out of objections to the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies. Another guest is Taylor Trensch, who’s gay and the star of the stage musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”
According to the DNC, the annual gala began in 1999 as a small dinner held by Andrew Tobias, who’s gay and a former DNC treasurer, but has grown to one of the biggest events for Democrats. Last year, former Vice President Joseph Biden was the keynote speaker.
DNC Chair Tom Perez hailed the newly announced women speakers as leaders in the LGBT movement and the women’s rights movement.
“In the face of sustained Republican efforts to roll back the progress we’ve made, leaders within the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ women in particular are stepping up, running for office and fighting back,” Perez said. “Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Annise Parker and Gina Ortiz Jones are trailblazers in their communities and I’m proud that they know that building Democratic infrastructure helps LGBTQ candidates at every level, from school board to Senate.”
Also praising the speakers was DNC Finance Chair Henry Munoz, who said the party is “thrilled to welcome such inspiring LGBTQ women to speak at this year’s gala.”
“Americans across the country want to see more women elected, and Democrats are making this happen in 2018,” Munoz said. “With trailblazers like Attorney General Maura Healey, Mayor Annise Parker and Gina Ortiz Jones leading the way, we are going to win big this November.”
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