Three gay elected officials were among the diverse Democratic “rising stars” featured in what was billed as a different kind of keynote address Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention — and one was joined by his fiancé.
Malcolm Kenyatta, a Pennsylvania state representative appearing remotely, as did numerous others, praised presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden’s early support for marriage equality. Biden publicly embraced equal marriage rights in May 2012, when he was vice president, and a few days later President Barack Obama followed suit. They were running for reelection then, and it didn’t hurt their chances at all.
Kenyatta’s fiancé, Matthew Miller, appeared with him in the segment and also expressed his appreciation for Biden. The two became engaged in July, and tweets about the proposal went viral. They plan to marry in January 2022. During the keynote, Miller chimed in to Biden, "Appreciate you, man."
Kenyatta also appeared on his own in some segments, first discussing Donald Trump’s lack of response to the COVID-19 crisis, nothing, “Doctors, nurses, and home health care aides in Philadelphia have to risk their own lives to protect others because there’s not enough protective equipment.”
Two other gay elected officials appeared — Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach, Calif., and state Rep. Sam Park of Georgia, the first out member of that state’s legislature; they and Kenyatta were the first out LGBTQ+ speakers in a keynote slot at the national convention. Both Garcia and Park talked about the health crisis early on. Trump “didn’t and still doesn’t have a plan” to address the pandemic and its economic fallout, Garcia said, while Park brought up the problem of children being sent back to school with inadequate protection. Garcia, however, did not mention the personal toll that COVID-19 has taken on his—his mother and stepfather both died of the virus.
Later on all three touched on other issues, such as economics and running for office while out, and Kenyatta promised, “A new generation of leaders is rising up.” This new generation also included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, South Carolina state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, Tennessee state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Texas and Conor Lamb and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, and many more, noting Biden's support for health care, clean energy, the development of new jobs, and other progressive causes.
Stacy Abrams, who narrowly lost the election for Georgia governor in 2018 and is an activist for voting rights, closed the keynote. “Our choice is clear,” said Abrams, who was among the women Biden considered for his running mate. “A steady, experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis, just like he’s done before, or a man who only knows how to deny and distract. A leader who cares about our families or a president who only cares about himself.”
“We do not elect saviors,” she continued. “We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledged to serve, who hear our dreams and work, to make them real, who defend our way of life by protecting our right to vote. Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”
Watch clips below.