Today, we have a woman running for President of the United States who fully supports marriage equality. She is also likely to be the only nominee running for president that does. That is something all Americans should be thrilled about. Her position is clear and rock solid, and they way she came to that conclusion is the same way most people do, including some of my own family members. Like most Americans, her position is one that evolved and developed from personal interactions with LGBT Americans and their families, and through a long and deep soul searching. I know a little bit about this process: It's how my father came to support my right to marry and then eventually walk me down the aisle when I married my wife.
I first met Hillary when she was running for U.S. Senate. At that time, same-sex marriage didn't have nearly the public support it has today. As a community, we still had a great deal of work to do. Like it was yesterday, I remember a small meeting of LGBT leaders in Jeff Soreff's apartment with the then-First Lady. The goal of the meeting was for the leaders to better understand her positions on LGBT issues and to push her to take up more pro LGBT positions and champion more LGBT issues. The meeting was noteworthy and remarkable for a number of reasons. It was not a large meeting. It was intimate and informal and people were very frank in their dialogue -- as was Hillary. She spoke in a deeply personal way about a gay couple that profoundly opened her eyes and her mind regarding LGBT families. There were two men who moved into the house next to her parents' home in Arkansas and became surrogate sons, helping care for her father when he was dying.
Of course, Hillary has written about this couple in her book. But to hear it in her owns words so long ago and to see the look in her eyes as she described her love and respect for this couple spoke volumes about what she had learned -- that families were defined by love and selflessness not sexual orientation. As I have seen Hillary's work with the LGBT community grow, I have often seen her go back to what she learned from that couple as a guide.
Much has been made of Hillary's support of marriage with some claiming it is a poll-driven position. The fact is she came to this position the same way most Americans did, through conversations with those of us in the community, by getting to know people who were deeply committed and in love with one another, and by recognizing that every couple in American has just as much right to happiness as the next person, regardless of sexual orientation.
While the movement toward equality in the LGBT community has moved rapidly over these last few years, we have never had a major party candidate on the ballot for president of the United States who was willing to state so unequivocally her support for marriage equality, long before any votes were cast or elections were won. When Hillary Clinton receives the Democratic nomination, she will not only be the first woman to receive a major party nomination for president of the United States, she will be the first major party nominee to publicly articulate that position before she assumes office. And as a gay American, who has fought for women's rights and LGBT rights my entire life, I couldn't be more proud.
Hon. Christine C. Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council, is the highest-ranking openly gay elected official in the city's history. She has embarked on an impressive journey through the non-profit sector, a board member at Athlete Ally, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and The Tyler Clementi Foundation. Chris also lead the effort on behalf of Governor Cuomo to elect pro-choice candidates last November, and was instrumental in forming the first Women's Equality Party in modern history. Chris currently serves as a special adviser to governor Cuomo. Chris and her wife, Kim Catullo, live in Chelsea, with their dogs Justin and Sadie.