CHARLOTTE, N.C. — California State Assembly Speaker John A. Perez took to the podium Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and praised President Barack Obama for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and for coming out in support of marriage equality, calling it evidence that the Administration is working to protect and advance “opportunities” for all American people.
Perez, who became California’s first openly gay Speaker when he was sworn in on March 1, 2010, spoke of the advancement of LGBT rights, and addressing women’s and immigrant-related issues.
“In too many states, even some folks who have a job wake up every morning in fear that they will lose that job simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” Perez said. “We fight for them.”
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The Assembly Speaker is considered the second most powerful position in California politics. Democratic members of the House elected Pérez unanimously in December 2009.
Also Wednesday, at least three of the speakers representing their states during the roll call are gay: Colorado State Democratic Chair Rick Palacio, New Hampshire State Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, and Rhode Island House Assembly Speaker Gordon Fox.
The large role for gays and lesbians at the DNC stands in striking contrast with last week’s Republican convention, which ratified a platform opposing gay-rights priorities and was attended by perhaps a few dozen openly gay delegates.
According to National Stonewall Delegates, the Democratic Convention is being attended by more than 530 LGBT particiapants, 486 of whom are delegates.