State Sen. Wendy Davis addresses the crowd at the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats Spring Fundraising Kick-off Party in Fort Worth Wednesday, May 23. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats raised close to $20,000 Wednesday night at the Spring Fundraising Kick-off Party in Fort Worth.

The event was the group’s launch for fundraising efforts and will go toward backing Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign in the general election. She is unopposed in the primary. In addition, funds will go to state House candidates and the Congressional District 33 Democratic candidate selected in the primary, chapter President Felipe Gutierrez said.

About 100 people attended to donate, mingle and hear Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Davis speak about local and state issues.

Burns spoke first, addressing the national attention focused on marriage equality. He said the president’s announcement was among the things he “never thought I would see in my entire life.”

“Things like the president of the United States telling me that he wants me and my husband to legally marry here in the state of Texas,” he said. “This is something we should have all along. This is something that we are owed. It is a fundamental right that we should’ve already have but it’s still monumental.”

He also acknowledged local success, recapping the efforts of the Fort Worth City Council to embrace equality by adding transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, something he said he was “incredibly proud” to accomplish and acknowledged Stonewall and Fairness Fort Worth for the groups’ efforts in helping make it a reality. He also said the city has extended partner benefits for LGBT city employees and improved police and firefighter training.

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns speaks about the important accomplishments made in favor of equality locally and nationally at a Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats fundraising event May 23. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

While many lawmakers are following the president’s lead, he said he was “incredibly proud to have an ally” like Davis in Austin fighting for the rights of everyone. He told the audience to unite in the coming months to help motivate voters in Senate District 10 to re-elect Davis by “reminding them of just how incredibly kick-ass awesome Wendy Davis is.”

Davis then spoke about “shifting the dialogue” about what Texas has and can accomplish. She praised the state Legislature for passing an anti-bullying bill in the last session, but reminded the crowd to continue to fight for education and healthcare funding, two things she relied on as a single mother at 19 attending college. Davis has been outspoken about Texas defunding Planned Parenthood.

“I certainly didn’t ever look like I was going to be one of those people who made my way up into a place in the world that has the meaning that my life has today,” she said about her upbringing.

At 19, Davis said she destined to love the life of her mother, who raised her and her three siblings on her own. She was divorced with a 1-year-old, working two jobs and sometimes still couldn’t pay her bills.

But when a co-worker brought a brochure for Tarrant County College to work, Davis enrolled in classes to become a legal assistant. Later, she received a Texas Equalization Grant to attend Texas Christian University on her way to becoming a lawyer and graduating from Harvard.

The grant was “obliterated” in the last session, Davis said, placing the future generations at risk without opportunities others enjoyed in the past and what voters have the power to bring back by voting for candidates who want to improve people’s futures.

Davis was elected to the state Senate in 2008 in a district that still leans to the Republican side, she said. But that may not hinder her support in November because the voters in her district understand the issues she fights for.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have an R or a D next to your name when what you care about is your healthcare, your children’s future and education and so many of the other issues that we’re working on,” she said.

Founding members awards were given out at the end of the event to recognize the charter members who founded Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. Certificates were presented to state Rep. Lon Burnam,  Mary Edward, Lisa Thomas, Steve Bratka, Drew Sutton, Bayliss Camp, Lynn Johnson, Glenda Thompson, Chris Randolph and Tim Meagher.