President Obama appointed Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the chair of the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday, making her the first female to hold the position in over 15 years and just the third to hold it in history.
Wasserman has been an invaluable ally to the LGBT community throughout her political career. She was a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and has spoken out for diverse causes such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Last year, Wasserman also won a Voice for Equality award from Equality Florida. The organization’s executive director Nadine Smith describes her as “an absolute champion” with a “fighting spirit.” In her acceptance speech for the award, Wasserman reaffirmed her commitment to LGBT people and issues. “Without equality, we do not live up to our greatest potential as a nation. … We must remember the importance of action and continue to advocate equality for all.” She served eight years in the Florida House and four years in the state Senate, and became a congresswoman in 2005.
Wasserman was chosen to chair the DNC on account of her strength as a fundraiser, her media messaging abilities, and her influence in the crucial swing state of Florida, according to Politico. “In selecting Debbie to lead our party, President Obama noted her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit and her ability to overcome adversity,” Vice President Joe Biden told the committee’s members. Former DNC Chairman Dan Fowler described her as “a strong, very bright, aggressive, talented person who has made her mark in Congress in a few short years like almost nobody else has done.”
Wasserman will succeed Tim Kaine, who plans to run for a Virginia Senate seat. GLAAD applauds President Obama’s decision to choose Representative Wasserman Schultz and congratulates her on this achievement.