More than 300 people packed the D.C. gay nightclub Town Danceboutique Wednesday night for the first LGBT fundraiser and rally organized by Ready for Hillary, the independent committee formed last year to urge Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016.
Organizers said the large turnout was in keeping with the outpouring of support the Ready for Hillary organization is receiving from the LGBT community across the nation.
Guest speakers at the event included Michelle Clunie, actress and star of the television series “Queer as Folk,” and Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the lesbian couple that became plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
“I really like Hillary,” Clunie told the Blade. “I met her. I trust her. I believe in her. She’s always the smartest person in the room. I think she’s over qualified for the job and I think she’ll make one of the best presidents ever.”
Clunie said she traveled to D.C. from her home in California to attend and speak at the event at the invitation of D.C. gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson, who, along with D.C. gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, served as coordinators of the rally in which attendees paid $20.16 to attend.
Lisa Changadveja, Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans Director, told the gathering that more than 1.5 million people across the nation have signed on as supporters of the political action committee, or PAC, which under federal campaign finance rules cannot have any interaction with Clinton.
Changadveja said more than 35,000 people have made contributions of $100 or less to the organization as part of its outreach to small donors and potential campaign volunteers if and when Clinton decides to enter the 2016 presidential race.
Perry and Stier, who are longtime partners, were married last year shortly after the Supreme Court ruling overturning Prop 8 cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.
“I’ve met the Secretary a few times and I’ve been incredibly impressed by her commitment to children, families, LGBT people and equal rights in general,” Perry said of Clinton. “She was amazing as Secretary of State and her leadership at the United Nations and elsewhere. I think she’s done an awful lot to prove to the community that she’s a good candidate.”
Perry said she just moved to D.C. to take a job with a children’s advocacy organization called the First Five Years Fund. With their four sons “grown up” and either attending college or living on their own, she and Stier plan to divide their time between Washington and their home in Berkley, Perry said.
Although Clinton herself couldn’t attend the event under campaign finance rules, organizers arranged for a substitute that appeared to delight the crowd. A life-size cut-out photo of Hillary Clinton was propped up on a platform in front of a backdrop with the words “Ready for Hillary” written on it multiple times.
A photographer working with the Ready for Hillary group took dozens of pictures of people standing beside the Hillary cut-out photo.
“This is incredible,” said Earl Fowlkes, a D.C. gay activist who, among other things, serves as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Americans Caucus.
“I never expected to see this many people here to encourage Hillary to run,” he said. “And this goes to show you the kind of depth she has in the LGBT community for this many people to come out on a Wednesday night and basically give her the message that we want you to run. We’re ready for her.”
Added Fowlkes, “We had a black president and now we’re ready for a woman president. I’m ready.”
Gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green, who represents an ANC district in Ward 8, said he too believes Clinton is the best-qualified candidate to succeed Barack Obama as president.
“I prefer Democrats with a backbone,” Green said. “And she has continuously proved that she is not afraid to stand up to these Republicans and let them know that there are people in this country that we really need to look out for and she is the right person to do that.”