Kyrsten Sinema

Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Dinner – March 10, 2018

Kyrsten Sinema
March 10, 2018
Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Dinner
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Thank you so much Gwen for that kind introduction – and special thanks to Chad Griffin. Yes, clap for Chad.

And to the incredible board staff and volunteers at HRC who’ve put together this great event. I am so happy to be here tonight with my best friend's Josh and Adam. Right? You don't know. Yeah – I met Josh backstage, right before this and I was like – “hello.” And he goes, ‘hi I'm Josh.’ And I was like, yeah.

I didn't know he was married to Fergie, I don't know. That's a lucky girl – everything's fine, everything’s fine. Okay –

– Right yeah. I already texted my photo, of me and Adam, to all my girlfriends – and I was like ‘no big deal I'm having dinner with the Olympic medalist Adam.’ I know. You have to wait longer to hear him but he's gonna be the best part of the show, I'm sure. I hope he skates. Right? Okay – the teleprompter person is like ‘please woman, get a handle.’ Right, get a handle. Okay – everything's fine.

I am so happy to be here tonight to personally thank all of you for your support over the years. You know, you and thousands of fabulous gay people around the country, have trusted me to take your voice to Washington. Your stories, your passion, and your fight to achieve equality for all Americans – and I couldn't be more grateful for this honor. You know there’s a saying that we've all heard a lot: “if you don't have a seat at the table, you're on the menu” – and that's why HR sees mission is so important because your work ensures that we all have a seat at the table. My dress needs too, yeah.

I'm so proud of our work together, and I am awestruck by the strides that we've made in the advancement of equality. As opportunities for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters have grown exponentially over the last decade we know that there is still so much left to do.


[SINEMA] I think that's the same person who had yelled at Josh that he was hot. He was like ‘I already know, thanks.’ It's good –

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] [Inaudible] you!

[SINEMA] Thank you. I actually just did it for that –it was all for that. Okay –

But it's up to us now, to make certain, that being gay lesbian bisexual or transgender will never again be an impediment to success.

These battles will take place on many fronts. Under our new president, that's unfortunately meant returning to some of the fights we thought were behind us – but this includes making sure that everyone who serves in our military is treated with the respect and dignity that the Uniform requires.

In Arizona we're proud of our military, and every single person who answers the call to serve. Yes, you can clap again; keep clapping.

I'm from a military family myself, so looking out for service members and veterans has always been personal for me. So when someone who serves has their courage disparaged, simply, because of his or her gender identity we must all stand up, to defend that honor.

This isn't a matter of one party being right and the other party being wrong, because the truth is if we allow our basic values of honor and dignity to become just another political football, we all lose. The whole room is like ‘what's a football?’

Except for those ladies over there. They’re like ‘we know.’

But, look – we have to work together, we've got to find willing partners in both parties – and I know that they're out there – and bridge these divides before they rip us apart forever – and that's why I'm running for the United States Senate.

My approach has always been to put country ahead of party. To reach across the aisle and get things done, and in Arizona that comes naturally. We're very practical people, we just roll up our sleeves and get to work – I don't even wear the sleeves. But we don't care whether there's an R or a D next to your name, we only care if you're getting the job done. And that same approach is common, right here, among LGBT Americans of every political stripe. And that's because to grow up LGBT, is often to be tried by fire. To struggle and to wrestle with the fundamental question of who you are, often at a young age. virtually every one of us in this room have faced bullying, discrimination, exclusion, or worse – and so we needed the courage, the grit, and the passion to persevere and to flourish to be our best and our most authentic selves. So when you grow up like that, finding common ground with people you sometimes disagree with, well heck that's all you've ever known. And we need that approach now more than ever. We need it in our city councils and in the halls of Congress; we needed at the Statehouse; and we need it in the White House – and that's how we make real lasting change for the LGBT community. I've seen time and time again how this approach helps us win the tough battles. Long before the Supreme Court weighed in, I led the first successful effort in the country to defeat a ban on same-sex marriage on the statewide ballot.

We defeated prop 107 way back in 2006 – in Arizona. But our success taught us not only how to get things done, but how to communicate with people from all walks of life –and those lessons have shaped my work ever since. See to defeat this ballot measure we got past the political platitudes and we expanded the conversation. We focused on how this initiative would hurt all unmarried couples across the state. We look past the partisan labels and we focused on our shared values as Arizonans. It's no surprise at the best way to build broad-based support was to connect with people right where they were. So we had open and honest conversations about the hopes and dreams that unite us, not, fights about the superficial differences that divide us. And it worked.

We knew we could win because we knew Arizona. As Westerners we value our independence but we are proud of our families in our communities, and we share a strong and steadfast ethic of service. Then, just as now, people are just looking for common-sense solutions. And I've used this approach day in and day out to bring people together, and stand up for the rights and freedoms of our fellow Americans. We all remember when last year, a tweet from the president threw the lives of so many of our transgender service members into chaos and uncertainty. It was mean-spirited and it was wrong – and it was our cue to get to work.

So that's why I worked across party lines to support a bill that prohibits the Department of Defense from discharging trans members of our armed services based solely on their gender identity – and I was especially proud to be joined this effort by my state senior senator, Republican John McCain. He is a stalwart a defender of our servicemen and women as there ever was. So we knew that building across the aisle support would be critical to providing certainty and support for our brave service members, and that was especially true when we had to beat back another ill-conceived and spiteful attack on our trans members later that year. The fight came in the form of an amendment that would have barred service members from accessing transition-related health care. We ended up defeating that amendment – not once but twice, on the floor of the house.

But you know the math in the House of Representatives. That defeat wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn't reached across the aisle to engage and persuade some of our Republican colleagues. That's how you get things done in Washington.

We did it then and we can do it again. And that's why I'm so excited to campaign for the Senate – to cut through this chaos in Washington, and finally get some stuff done. Because the enthusiasm we're seeing on the ground right now is like nothing I've seen before, and I don't know about you but I'm so excited to get to work.

Yet even with all this energy, we know it's not going to be easy – this race is gonna be tough, it's Arizona, but many of you know I don't shy away from a tough race. I love a good marathon; heck I love a good Ironman.

But I’ve found that the benefits of training are more than just staying physically active. It's about fitting into this dress. No for real though, yeah. The truth is, you know getting up before dawn to put in those miles every day, it helps me keep perspective on what truly matters – and it helps me avoid all the superficial games that are happening in Washington. And one of the other great things about running, is that it provides another space to cut through that chaos of Washington and come together. So – some of you might know this – I teach a weekly bipartisan spin class, for members of Congress. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's when yelling is appropriate. Yeah.

So if you were like really need a bill passed you just like cranked it up, right. But I also do a bipartisan run around the monuments with my colleagues every week. And through spinning and running, we've built relationships and more than a sense of camaraderie. We're friends, and that friendship has made it possible for us to better work together when we swapped the running shoes for our dress shoes. Now we know that running’s not the only way to solve our problems, but spending this time with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle has underscored an important point. The only way to find success, the only way to win these important fights, is if we're willing to put aside our differences and engage each other in good faith. See I'm running for the Senate, but I'm also running to stand up for the values that unite us as Americans.

The right to define our own destinies. The belief that no one should be different in the eyes of the law. The freedom to reach for every opportunity and fulfill our greatest potential. We here, we together, we have a moral obligation to continue this work. And standing together, I know we can win. I know we can. There’s so much to be done. We’ve got to do it this year. But I couldn't be prouder, to be in this fight with all of you. So let's go get it. Thank you.

Sinema, K. [Human Rights Campaign]. (2018, March 10). Arizona Representative Kyrsten Sinema Speaks at HRC Los Angeles Dinner [] Retrieved on April 1, 2022 from