There is a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender delegates at this year's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. And while they come from a variety of different states and backgrounds, most seem to have at least two things in common: their support for the Equality Act and their contempt for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
LGBT delegates make up 11.5 percent of all delegates at the DNC this year, and this record number is not a coincidence - it’s by design. In order to increase the number of delegates from underrepresented communities, veteran LGBT delegates established an advisory board to recruit new and qualified LGBT delegates from across the U.S. The newly appointed delegates span the LGBT spectrum and bring a variety of experience and fresh perspectives to the delegation.
Merrick Moses, a transgender delegate from Maryland, told NBC OUT he’s excited to be a part of making history at the DNC, but he emphasized there is much more work to be done.
“I’d like [Hillary Clinton] to ensure that wherever LGBT people are in this country, they cannot be fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he said.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three in four have experienced workplace discrimination.
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Several delegates who spoke with NBC OUT, including DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes, said the best way to protect LGBT citizens is the passage of the Equality Act. This bill is currently in the House and Senate and would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Fowlkes, who was instrumental in increasing the percentage of LGBT delegates from 7.8 percent in 2012 to 11.5 percent this year, said he sees passage of the Equality Act as essential to protecting the millions of LGBT Americans who “can get married today and get thrown out of their homes or fired from their job the next day.” He called the bill the next “big picture” item on the list for LGBT equality and said it's necessary in order to "end discrimination in all forms against LGBT people."
In addition to their support of the Equality Act, LGBT delegates who spoke to NBC OUT were united in their contempt for Donald Trump. “Disaster" and “horrible” were just some of the words used to describe a potential Trump presidency.
“He is an erratic and dangerous man. His foreign policy would be unpredictable, and his domestic policy would certainly be a trainwreck,” Chris Sgro, a DNC delegate and a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, said of the GOP presidential nominee.
Sgro said the Republican platform is a step backward for America in the same way HB2, North Carolina's so-called "bathroom bill," has been for his state. “If the GOP had its way, the whole country would look like North Carolina,” Sgro added.
As might be expected, the LGBT DNC delegates who spoke with NBC OUT were supportive of their party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, and seemed confident she would continue the pro-LGBT policies of the Obama administration.
"I think Secretary Clinton is the one with the most experience," Merrick Moses said. "She has a 40-year track record of working with marginalized communities around the nation and the world."