09/29/2015 02:23 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2016

Celebrating the Democratic Party's Commitment to Equality

On Sunday night, the Democratic Party, led by President Obama, once again reaffirmed our commitment to strength through diversity and leadership by inclusion.

Our DNC LGBT Gala headlined by the President raised important resources for the Democratic Party and attracted some of our party's brightest stars. But most importantly, it brought LGBT Democratic leaders together to celebrate our party's civil rights achievements and to remind us all why we keep fighting for equality.

To a room full of elected officials, business leaders, entertainers, and civil rights activists --including Supreme Court plaintiff Jim Obergefell -- President Obama recited the major milestones that have been reached for the LGBT community during his presidency:

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Don't exist.
  • Marriage equality in all fifty states? Done.
  • Executive orders ensuring job and housing security for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans? Yes, under this President.
  • Fully inclusive hate crimes legislation that protects all Americans and bears Matthew Shepard's name? One of the President's earliest wins for the LGBT community.

But the President also made crystal clear that there's more work to be done in the march toward full equality.

In quoting legendary gay pioneer Harvey Milk, President Obama said:

'If a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.' But to those of us who've made it through those doors, we've got a unique obligation to reach back and make sure other people can make it through those doors, too.

The President continued:

Maybe it's the trans activist demanding dignity. Maybe it's the immigrant hoping to contribute, or the middle-class kid struggling to pay for college. Maybe it's the woman denied equal pay, the African-American denied the right to vote, the worker denied a living wage. Their stories may not be ours, but surely we can see our stories in theirs. We can make their fight our own.

Contrast the President's words with those of the Republican presidential candidates. The differences between the two parties could not be clearer. One is the party of diversity, inclusion, and offers a commitment to social justice. The other party? Well, they offer policies that would move us backward, not forward.

Time and again, Republican candidates, playing to an ever-shrinking primary base, eagerly spout offensive claims and remarks that not only denigrate and insult the LGBT community, immigrants, women, African Americans, and others -- but that also seek to walk back hard-won equality.

Make no mistake: under a Republican administration, not only will progress stop for the LGBT community, Latinos, and others, but we will also lose hard-fought ground. They will try to repeal marriage equality, put our openly LGBT soldiers back into the closet, and enact discriminatory so-called "religious freedom" laws that would allow businesses and government workers to discriminate against LGBT people or others they disagree with. And fair and compassionate immigration reform? Forget it.

For LGBT Americans like me -- and for Latinos as well, the stakes over the next fourteen months couldn't be higher as the political process plays out and the country gets to work picking a new leader. It's absolutely essential that the next President is committed to advancing LGBT equality and building on President Obama's stellar record in this area. And I'm committed to making sure that we as a party and we as a country follow through. I hope that you join me.