Local leaders, LGBT couples and youth share personal stories and discuss the President’s accomplishments for the LGBT community
LOS ANGELES – Today, Obama for America-California and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) hosted the official launch of Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama in Los Angeles at the home of LACDP Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric C. Bauman and his husband Michael Andraychak, coinciding with Harvey Milk Day as part of the national Obama Pride launch.
In a living room packed with LGBT community leaders and couples from all walks of life, the Obama Pride launch featured a coffee discussion on the President’s accomplishments for the LGBT community, the impact of the President’s policies on their personal lives, and the challenges in the 2012 election.
“President Obama is the first President to fully embrace all rights for LGBT Americans, from opposing discrimination in employment to supporting marriage equality. In our community, talk about promises kept by the President: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is no more; for the first time, federal civil rights law recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected class with the Matthew Shepard and James Bird Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; for the first time in history, a President of the United States supports marriage equality. LGBT Americans has seen more progress under President Obama than any other time in U.S. history. And we stand with President Barack Obama in 2012,” said Eric C. Bauman, LACDP Chair.
Joining Bauman include his husband and partner of 30 years Michael Andraychak; TV personality Raquel Castaneda; Garvey School Board Member Henry Lo; JWCH President Al Ballesteros; Latino Equality Alliance Co-Chair Ari Gutierrez; comedian Frank Cermak and his partner Marcos Ochoa; Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District President Bryan Urias; API Equality Program Director Tommy Tseng; Girls Today Women Tomorrow Executive Director Michele Deane, and several young activists.
“I’m excited about the fact that the President lifted ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I believe that we could not have made progress with that foundational discrimination, and it heralded that sense of change throughout the country. What’s more is: the naysayers want to diminish that marriage certificate, but it’s really important to us to affirm our relationship that way. I have been with Eric for 30 years. In 30 years, it’s amazing the opportunity we have had to watch the world change. And I’m here to work with you to re-elect the President,” said Michael Andraychak, husband of LACDP Chair Eric C. Bauman and a Registered Nurse.
Al Ballesteros, President and CEO of JWCH, added, “For the first time, we have a strategy from the White House that gets us ahead of HIV/AIDS and LGBT health. A Romney presidency would be a situation where you would have an individual who panders to those who want Planned Parenthood closed.”
“I’m one of the first openly gay school board members in the San Gabriel Valley. We were one of the first school districts to expand domestic partnership benefits to employees and extended our anti-bullying policies to include gays and lesbians. Now, we have a president who has solidly stood as a supporter of the gay and lesbian community. It’s important that we re-elect President Obama. Barack Obama is truly the President for all Americans,” said Henry Lo, Garvey School Board Member and the first openly gay Asian elected official.
Latino Equality Alliance Co-Chair Ari Gutierrez said, “It’s great what we’ve done. We are happy to see the changes, but there is still more to do.”
This year, Americans have a choice between President Barack Obama, who is committed to advancing equality and justice for all Americans, and Mitt Romney, who has pledged to legitimize discrimination by enshrining it in the U.S. Constitution for the first time ever, with an amendment outlawing committed gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
On the prospect of a Mitt Romney presidency, TV personality Raquel Castaneda said, “I’m working every day for the future of my sister, for the little girls I work with. Our Declaration of Independence guarantees Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Castaneda continued, “As Americans, as gay Americans, we have the right to enjoy those unalienable rights. A Romney presidency would look like something that took place more than 60 years ago. We are real people; we have real families; and we deserve to have real lives.”
Anthony Duarte, a parent and a California Democratic Party Board Member, said, “I’m a parent of an eleven-year-old son. A Mitt Romney presidency scares me not only for myself, but for my son. I fear for me and my family if Romney is elected.”
In discussing the 2012 presidential election, Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District President Bryan Urias said, “This election is a critical election. We must make sure that we go out there and fight for him to make sure he gets re-elected. He stands with the LGBT community; we must stand with him so he can continue the progress for our community and all communities.”
“We must instill a culture that embraces LGBT people. When everyone engages in acceptance, then we will have acceptance. As you know, it’s no longer illegal to be gay in America, but we still do not see same-sex couple walking down the street holding hands. We need to go beyond equal rights to have equal lives; and without President Obama in the White House, we will not only lose our rights, we will never have equal lives,” said Tommy Tseng, a first generation immigrant and program director of API Equality-Los Angeles.
In closing, LACDP Chair Eric C. Bauman reminded, “For LGBT Americans, we must support the President not only because of his stance on our issues, but because of his stance on jobs, the economy, and health care, and all the other issues that our nation faces. This is a President who truly stands up for all Americans, and we must stand with him.”