By Eugene Scott and MJ Lee
PHILADELPHIA — Sarah McBride spoke out against discrimination against LGBT Americans Thursday as she became the first transgendered person to speak at a major party convention.
McBride, 25, was the first openly transgender White House staffer when she interned in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
“I have seen that change is possible. I witnessed history interning in the White House and helping my home state of Delaware pass protections for transgender people,” she said on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
“But despite our progress, so much work remains. Will we be a nation where there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live? Or, will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally; a nation that’s stronger together? That is the question in this election,” McBride added.
She spoke on the importance of passing the Equality Act, a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex in housing, employment, public accommodations and other issues.
It is currently legal to discriminate against LGBT people in hiring and other issues in 30 states, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“Today in America, LGBTQ people are still targeted by hate that lives in both laws and in hearts. Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe that tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected — especially if Hillary Clinton is our president,” McBride said.
McBride’ parents, Sally and David McBride, who were watching with the Delaware delegation inside the arena, described moment was emotional and exhausting.
“I felt like I was going to faint,” Sally McBride told CNN. “It’s only been four-and-a-half years since Sarah came out to us so the journey — thinking back on the last four-and-a-half years, I sort of thought — this is incredible. Look how far our family has come.”
The McBrides described the deep concern they felt when Sarah first came out — fear that their daughter would be discriminated against at every turn. “We were scared to death for her safety,” Sally McBride said.
McBride added that she believes her daughter could have only made this speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“When you look at their platform, the Republican platform, it’s so anti-LGBT,” she said. “I don’t think she would have been asked. I don’t think it would have been possible.”
LGBT rights have played a prominent role at both the Democratic and Republican conventions following last month’s shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, which left 49 people dead.
“As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” GOP nominee Donald Trump said during his acceptance speech last week.
And PayPal founder Peter Thiel became the first openly gay person to speak at a Republican convention.
“I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American,” Thiel said.