A Social Justice Day in D.C.

The summer weather has finally arrived here in Washington, D.C. and the nation's capital is buzzing with energy. I am grateful to be back in our Nation's Capital, where I am able to most effectively continue my charge for social justice reform. From criminal justice reform, to LGBT equality, and youth empowerment, my work to promote a fair playing field and break down barriers finds its most opportune moments right here in the Beltway.

This week was especially eventful, as I had the honor of being a guest of both the White House and the State Department. The two different events, hosted by two of the most powerful institutions in our country, are of enormous importance in the quest of social Justice.

As I made my way to the annual White House Pride reception at the executive mansion with President Obama, I am reminded of his historic tenure in office. On a beautiful day I made my way into to the South West entrance as President Obama became the first sitting President to endorse a woman candidate for the Presidency. As a champion of the LGBT community and equality for all during his presidency, I could not imagine a more fitting occasion to celebrate pride than in his home. Joining me in celebrating the eighth annual reception were openly gay Army Secretary Eric Fanning, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg among the many other friends I have made over the years during my various times in Washington, D.C.

During his remarks, the President proclaimed "we've proven that change is possible, that progress is possible. It's not inevitable, though. History doesn't just travel forward; it can go backwards if we don't work hard. So we can't be complacent." The commander-in-chief went on to say that we must enact protections against LGBT job discrimination, shield our transgender Americans from violent attacks, and give a voice to the isolated children of the world struggling to understand their sexuality.

What struck me most however, was when the president declared that "we must get back to work not just fighting on behalf of justice and equality for the LGBT community, but for everybody." It was a promising validation of a notion I have always carried -- that the LGBT community can act as a change agent to promote social justice for the rest of the world. I was also struck by how this message of inclusiveness would either continue in the next administration or stop completely depending on who becomes our next President.

I left the President's company with a renewed sense and drive for the causes I have dedicated my life's endeavors. The arc of American history bends towards justice and fairness, but he, once again, helped me see the vital importance of people fighting to make sure these goals are accomplished.

How rare and exciting an opportunity then, that the very next day I spoke with members of our foreign policy community. I was attending meetings at the State department the day after the summer reception. As I had lunch on the 8th floor in the Madison Dining room I was able to continue to convey my message and the desire to help facilitate social justice reform while we continue the advancement of LGBT equality, with some of our nation's diplomats and policymakers. While there and we had a discussion around nations Parks where we discussed how the National Park Service is trying to be inclusive of all Americans Stories and how even the Stonewall Inn is a historic place within our nation's history. Lawmakers and ambassadors alike have welcomed and been receptive to my thoughts on the important causes we are mutually care about and fight for. These representatives of the United States have enormous power to extend a message of equality and opportunity to the most oppressive parts of the world and they take this work seriously.

I was able to witness the fulfillment of the American promise: that the citizens of this great country are guaranteed a redress of grievances by our elected officials. Every time I travel to the capital, I am reminded of the importance of reminding those in power that it is the people's responsibility to hold them accountable and enact the change we wish to see on our behalves. I was also reminded that we have a President who has set the culture for the entire Government so the work I do and my thoughts and ideas around social justice are taken seriously.

I always leave the State Department knowing that I have been heard and as a private citizen my voice has been heard. As I do my part I try to give a voice to those that do not have one here in Washington; and I know that this work will continue tomorrow and well into the future.