Allan Acevedo | Political Spectrum
Having just returned from the annual California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento, Calif., I had the opportunity to reflect on the many achievements of Democrats and also celebrate many new victories, not just as Democrats, but as members of the LGBT community. This weekend underscored for me why I am a Democrat and why I fight for the party that has fought for me.
I want to be clear that I am not a Democrat because I believe 100 percent with the Democratic Party platform. I am also not a Democrat because I like every Democrat in public office.
I am a Democrat because I see who has been there to fight for the issues most important to me. Democrats have championed issues ranging from women’s right to vote, environmental protection, marriage equality, immigration reform, Social Security, Medicare, the New Deal, the Voting Rights Act, the GI Bill, Peace Corps, the eight-hour workday, unemployment and consumer protection.
Democrats are not a monolithic group with one viewpoint. Democrats represent a spectrum of policy and political preferences that are most closely in line with my own beliefs. I support this party because it has supported me. There is strength in numbers and strength in unity.
As a gay man, I know democrats have been the most outspoken in fighting for not only marriage equality, but also a whole spectrum of issues impacting the LGBT community. More importantly, the Democratic Party has made room at the table for our community. From electing Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin to electing Assemblymember John Perez as speaker of the California State Assembly, the Democratic Party has embraced LGBT leaders in the party in a way that is not true for the Republican Party.
I could also not be more proud of the fact that the California Young Democrats this weekend elected their first openly gay president, John Vigna. Vigna is a member of the Sacramento County Young Democrats.
I am also proud to have been elected as secretary of this organization, and to serve along Petaluma City Councilmember Gabe Kearney, an openly gay elected official who was re-elected parliamentarian. Within the leadership pipeline of the Democratic Party there are LGBTs, HIV-positive people, women and immigrants.
Registering as Democrat is the only option for me. It is not choosing the lesser of two evils; it’s investing the time in learning what their issues are and what they have done to improve your shot at the American dream.
I am proud of the many accomplishments and opportunities I have been afforded at the age of 24, and know that many of the doors opened to me – including a college education and now an opportunity to pursue law school – would not have been possible without the work of the Democratic Party.
I know that it was State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a Democrat, who authored the Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act in 2000 that made it illegal to bully or harass students because of their sexual orientation. I know when I came out in middle school that I had resources and protection when students tried to bully me. I went to high school in a safe learning environment and was able to do well enough to get into college.
And today I know that it is the Democratic Party leading the charge on marriage equality. I know one day when I meet the man I want to marry that dream can be a reality because of the advocacy of Democrats.
As California makes it easier for people to register to vote, and as young people especially consider for which party to register, I hope you consider who has fought for you in the past and where you can now fight for the people and issues important to you.
—Allan Acevedo is co-founder and president emeritus of Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego. He is the current secretary of the California Young Democrats, and has worked on multiple political campaigns and served on numerous other boards including the San Diego Democratic Club, Gay-Straight Alliant Network and Equality California PAC. Follow @allanacevedo on Twitter.