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Donna Edwards Discusses Women, Gay Marriage At The DNC

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Rep. Edwards says that the number of Democratic women in leadership positions will be a feather in their cap in November.
Matt Stoller: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stoller/2261812681/
Rep. Edwards says that the number of Democratic women in leadership positions will be a feather in their cap in November.

Several political leaders from the D.C. area are scheduled to speak this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Maryland congresswoman Donna Edwards is among them. She spoke with WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about what she plans to touch on during her speech.

What message will you try to communicate in your speech this week?

"I think it's a message about how we're going to move forward, and what it's meant to me and the people of my district to have Barack Obama at the helm, leading us forward. I think there's a really strong message for Democrats and for Americans: look at where we were, look at how the President has stabilized and grown the economy, and that only leads to greener pastures ahead."

Both parties have been trying to reach out to women — what issues do you think will be most important to women?

"Part of what you will see from our convention is that women are part and parcel and part of the real leadership of the Democatic party. And that will be evidenced by our diversity on the stage, by the numbers of us who serve in the Congress and in the elected leadership... We're not just reaching out and saying, 'Here, look at a bunch of women.' We're saying, 'This is what we've accomplished for women: bring health care to women, making sure they can get mammograms and colonoscopies and their primary care."

"After all, the first piece of legislation that the President signed when he came into office was presented by my colleague and mentor in the Senate, Barbara Mikulski, and that was the Paycheck Fairness Act. That says an awful lot about what we think of women as Democrats. We think that we're equal, that we deserve equal pay for equal work, and that's present in all that we do."

To what extent do you expect gay marriage to be discussed at the DNC?

"I don't. As Democrats, we believe in justice and fairness and equality, and it doesn't matter who you are. I think the President has expressed that quite clearly and that's reflected in our platform. I think that you'll see in the diversity of speakers that we have in this convention that it's not just representative of our party, but representative of the country."

Do you think endorsements of gay marriage by President Obama and the NAACP will influence support for the proposal, particularly in Maryland, amongst the African-American community?

"I don't know. I think that for a lot of families, and for African-Americans, this is a complicated issue. I think the President expressed his support in his evolution of support, in a way that a lot of families in my congressional district for example, are taking to heart. I think they'll take those things into consideration when they show up to the polls in November. I've made it really clear to the people that I represent where I feel on these issues. It does seem to me that this is a question of fairness, and what governments do with respect to the people that are represented and whether you're gay or straight, you should have the ability to take advantage of the full array of benefits that all of our families take advantage of, and that includes marriage. So we'll see on the ballot in Maryland in November. And I don't think that it's a clean shot, but the President has put all of us into a position of reconsidering where we've been on these issues and maybe even changing our minds."

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