Current Affairs

Samira Wiley’s dad turned up to Congress to argue for LGBT+ rights

Nick Duffy April 3, 2019
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Dennis W. Wiley and daughter Samira Wiley

Dennis W. Wiley and daughter Samira Wiley

The father of Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley made a surprise appearance before Congress to argue for his lesbian daughter’s rights.

Dennis W. Wiley, an LGBT-inclusive church pastor, appeared before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Tuesday (April 2) to speak in support of the Equality Act, which would extend civil rights laws to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Samira Wiley’s dad called on Congress to pass LGBT+ protections

The pastor, whose DC-based Covenant Baptist United Church was one of the first in the region to embrace same-sex weddings, called for LGBT+ people to get protections in all 50 states.

In his speech to lawmakers, Wiley said: “Our LGBTQ brothers and sisters should never have to fear losing a job, being evicted from a house or apartment, being refused service at a restaurant, denied approval or a loan or rejected admission to a school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Speaking to Congress, Dennis Wiley also recalled how his daughter out to him as a lesbian, years prior.

He said: “A couple of years after we agreed to perform [same-sex] union services at our church, we went to New York to see our younger daughter act in a play.

“After we arrived in the city, she stopped by our hotel for a visit because she said she wanted to share something with us. It was then that she came out to us as a lesbian.

“We were shocked because we did not see this coming, however I immediately got up, went over to her, gave her a hug and told her how much I loved her.

“My wife was a little slower responding, not because she was disappointed or upset, but because being a mother she was afraid of what danger our daughter might face.”

Dennis Wiley paid tribute to his daughter, Samira Wiley

He added: “I am happy to tell you today that my daughter is doing just fine, as a successful, Emmy Award-winning actress who is happily married to the love of her life, [Orange Is the New Black writer] Lauren Morelli.

“Not every LGBTQ kid is as lucky as Samira, but when I told Samira that I would be giving this testimony today, she wanted me to tell you that if we, her parents, had not accepted her for who she is, she would not have the courage, confidence or self-esteem to be a successful actress and positive role model for other LGBTQ persons.

Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The New York Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City.
Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The New York Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (ANGELA WEISS/Getty)

“Let’s make sure the Equality Act becomes law, so that all of our beautiful, promising, gifted LGBTQ citizens, just like my daughter and daughter-in-law, can live their lives free of fear, free of bigotry, and free of discrimination.”

Samira Wiley shared her dad’s speech on Twitter, quipping: “I get it from my Daddy.”

Orange is the New Black co-star Danielle Brooks responded: “I pray that more parents can love and accept their children for who they are and not try and mold them into who they want them to be. ❤️”

Related topics: actor, Congress, Equality Act, orange is the new black, samira wiley

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