November 17, 2018 at 11:02 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Nancy Pelosi makes surprise appearance at NGLCC National Dinner

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s National Dinner on Friday, Nov. 16, at the National Building Museum in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday celebrated Democrats regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives when she made a surprise appearance at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s National Dinner Gala.

“The American people elected a Democratic majority,” said Pelosi to applause as she spoke at the National Building Museum in D.C.

“We are proud that so many new LGBTQ members…represent every corner of our country,” she added. “LGBTQ members look like America: They’re mothers, business owners, people of color and members of the native nations.”

Pelosi spoke hours after Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell — co-founders of NGLCC — and more than 100 other leading LGBT activists “enthusiastically” endorsed her for speaker.

Pelosi in her remarks did not specifically refer to her potential speakership. She did, however, reiterate the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will “be a top priority for the Democratic majority.”

“We must finally give sexual orientation and gender identity the full civil rights protection they deserve,” said Pelosi.

Pelosi in her remarks noted 2019 will mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots.

She noted sexual orientation and gender identity have been added to the federal hate crimes law and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act have been repealed over the last decade. Pelosi also criticized President Trump for reinstituting a ban on transgender people in the military.

“Last year the president resurrected that ban by tweet and then by presidential memorandum,” she said. “Together we will defeat the president’s transgender service ban. It’s just wrong.”

Dennis and Judy Shepard, whose gay son, Matthew Shepard, was killed in Wyoming in 1998, were among the hundreds of people who attended the dinner. National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling, Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Fernando Llorca, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter, Simran Shaikh of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance and Andrés Alberto Vásquez Moreno of the Colombia LGBT Chamber of Commerce were also in attendance.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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