U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) speaks at the Victory Funds International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the Washington Hilton on Dec. 7, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Baldwin Criticizes Trump at Victory Institute Conference

BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS, WASHINGTON BLADE

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) on Thursday criticized President Trump when she spoke at the opening plenary of the Victory Institute's annual International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Baldwin who is running for re-election told conference attendees at the Washington Hilton that Trump's policies have hurt "religious minorities, immigrants and the working poor." Baldwin also criticized Trump over his anti-LGBT judicial nominees and pointed out the fight "to demand the Executive Branch to use its power to advance the cause of equality."

"The representation that we fought for and won over the course of a generation all over the country, up and down the ballot, means that we no longer have to stand alone," said Baldwin.

Baldwin in 2012 became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.

Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith on Thursday received the Victory Institute's Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award. Baldwin who Victory Institute President Aisha C. Moodie-Mills described as "our heroine in the" U.S. Senate in her speech applauded Smith and Virginia state Del.-elect Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender person elected to any state legislature in the U.S.

Roem last month defeated Virginia state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), who had represented the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1992. Marshall, who is one of the most vocal opponents of LGBT rights in Virginia, repeatedly attacked Roem and her gender identity throughout the campaign.

"She's going to be a fantastic representative for families in her district and a leader on issues like infrastructure and health care," said Baldwin.

"It still means something more that she is there," she added. "It still means something to have members of this community in positions of powers."

Roem noted after Baldwin spoke that the Virginia General Assembly will have five openly LGBT members when the 2018 legislative session begins next month. Roem also said she won because she had her "own vision" as opposed to saying she "wasn't Del. Marshall."

"I presented something that was different," said Roem. "When I knocked on the doors I didn't say, 'Hi, I'm Danica Roem. I'm the trans woman running against Del. Marshall.' I said, 'Hi, I'm Danica Roem. I'm running for the House of Delegates. What's your name? it's really nice to meet you. You know my number one issue is fixing Route 28 and I'd love to hear from you. What issue is most important to you?'"

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and California state Sen. Ricardo Lara also spoke at the opening of the conference.

Booker, like Baldwin, criticized Trump over his administration's anti-LGBT policies that include efforts to ban trans people from the military banning transgender people from the military. Booker also described 2017 as "a difficult year for all of us."

"Patriotism is love of country," he said. "You cannot love your country unless you love all of your countrymen and women."

Lara in his speech noted his mother lived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for a decade. He said Trump's election was a reminder that "progress is messy," but stressed LGBT rights supporters' work continues.

"For us in California, we not only doubled down on our values, but we made it clear that one election does not determine our future," said Lara.

Hundreds of LGBT elected officials and advocates from the U.S. and around the world are attending the conference that will end on Saturday. U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Wednesday spoke at the conference's opening reception.

Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.>
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