Tag Archives: lgbt civil rights activists

Transcript: President’s remarks at LGBT Pride celebration

The following is a transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks delivered June 9 at the LGBT Pride reception at the White House. The president delivered his remarks shortly after 5 p.m. in the East Room.

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, hello, hello! (Applause.) Good to see you. Hello! Well, welcome to the White House.

Let me first of all — let me acknowledge some outstanding public servants who are here. We’ve got Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning is in the house. (Applause.) Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg is here. (Applause.) We’ve got some amazing members of Congress — no one who has done more on behalf of justice and equality than former Speaker and, perhaps soon to be Speaker again, Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) We love Nancy.

So this is the eighth Pride reception that we will celebrate together. (Applause.) I want to begin by saying thank you to all the people that — I’m looking out in the audience; I see some new friends but a lot of old friends, folks who have been with us through thick and thin. And I am grateful for all that you’ve done to work with us to accomplish some amazing transformations over these last seven and a half years. (Applause.)

So every year, we set aside this month to celebrate the ways that so many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have helped to make our union just a little more perfect. We honor the countless nameless heroes who paved the way for progress: The activists who marched. The advocates who organized. The lawyers who argued cases. The families who stood by their loved ones, even when it was tough. Every brave American who came out and spoke out, especially when it was tough. Because of them, because of all of you, there’s a lot to be proud of today.

Today, we live in an America where “don’t ask, don’t tell” don’t exist no more. (Applause.) Because no one should have to hide who they love in order to serve the country that they love. We live in an America that protects all of us with a hate crimes law that bears the name of Matthew Shepard. (Applause.) We live in an America where all of us are treated more equally, because visiting hours in hospitals no longer depend on who you are — (applause) — and insurance companies can no longer turn somebody away simply because of who you love.

Thanks to heroes like Edith Windsor and Jim — I always get Jim’s name — (laughter) — Jim knows I love him, but I never know where to put the emphasis — Obergefell — (applause) — generations of couples who insisted that love is love, we now live in an America where all of our marriages and our families are recognized as equal under the law. And that’s an extraordinary thing. When you talk to the upcoming generation, our kids — Malia’s, Sasha’s generation — they instinctively know people are people and families are families. And discrimination, it’s so last century. (Laughter.) It’s so passé. It doesn’t make sense to them. (Applause.) So we live in an America where the laws are finally catching up to the hearts of kids and what they instinctively understand.

So some folks never imagined we’d come this far — maybe even some in this room. Change can be slow. And I know that there have been times where at least some of the people in this room have yelled at me. (Laughter.) But together, 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. (Applause.) We cannot be complacent. Securing the gains this country has made requires perseverance and vigilance. And it requires voting. Because we’ve got more work to do. (Applause.)

We still have more work to do when gay and bisexual men make up two-thirds of new HIV cases in our country. We have to work hard to make sure that jobs are not being denied, people aren’t being fired because of their sexual orientation. We still have work to do when transgender persons are attacked, even killed for just being who they are. We’ve got work to do when LGBT people around the world still face incredible isolation and poverty and persecution and violence, and even death. We have work to make sure that every single child, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they look like or how they live, feels welcomed and valued and loved.

So we’re going to have to keep on pushing. And that’s the work of all of us. The great and often unsung civil rights hero Bayard Rustin once said, “We need in every community a group of angelic troublemakers.” (Laughter and applause.)

And that’s what I see here tonight -– people who aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers in the name of justice and equality until we extend the full promise of America to every single one of us. And that’s always been our story — not just in Selma or Seneca Falls, but in Compton’s Café and the Stonewall Inn. It’s the story of brave Americans who were willing to risk everything –- not just their own liberty or dignity, but also doing it on behalf of the dignity and liberty of generations to come. They understood a truth that lies at the heart of this nation: When all Americans are treated equal, we’re all more free.

And that’s what should give us hope. Despite our differences and our divisions, and the many complicated issues that we grapple with, real change is possible. Minds open. Hearts change. America shifts. And if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that people who love their country can change it.

One of the most special moments of my presidency was that warm summer night last June when we lit up the White House out there. (Applause.) It was a powerful symbol here at home, where more Americans finally felt accepted and whole, and that their country recognized the love that they felt. It was a beacon for people around the world who are still fighting for those rights. It was a reminder that when the change we seek comes, and when we move a little bit further on our journey toward equality and justice, we still have a responsibility to reach back and help pull up others who are striving to do the same.

So enjoy tonight. Have some champagne — some of you already have, I can tell. (Laughter.) Tomorrow, we get back to work. (Applause.) And by the way, we get back to work not just fighting on behalf of justice and equality for the LGBT community, but for everybody. (Applause.) Because one of the — if you’ve felt the sting of discrimination, then you don’t just fight to end discrimination for yourself, you’ve got to fight for the poor kid who needs opportunity. You need to fight for the working mom who can’t pay the bills. You’ve got to fight for some young woman on the other side of the world who can’t get an education. It can’t just be about us. It’s about we, and what we can do together. (Applause.)

So I’m very proud to have fought alongside you. We’ve got more miles in the journey, and I’m so glad that we’re going to be traveling that road together.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)


LGBT activists to protest installation of new archbishop in San Francisco

LGBT civil rights activists plan to protest on Oct. 4 in San Francisco when the Catholic Church installs Salvatore Cordileone as the new archbishop.

Cordileone, at the ceremony, officially becomes the head of the San Francisco Archdiocese.

A call to demonstrate issued by GetEQUAL said, “This is a slap in the face to the San Francisco LGBT population, but more importantly an affront to all equality-minded Catholics in the Bay Area.”

Cordileone, as a bishop in Oakland, was one of the more influential voices in the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The demonstration will take place outside St. Mary’s Cathedral on Gough Street in San Francisco at 1 p.m.

He also leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Defense of Marriage, which exists to block marriage equality. He has, in past campaigns, been aligned with the anti-gay Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.

“Despite a vast majority of American Catholics affirming the true social justice teachings of Jesus and of the church, Cordileone continues to use right-wing political action to climb the ranks of church hierarchy,” said San Francisco GetEqual activist Billy Bradford.

At a recent San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, elected officials also were critical of Cordileone’s promotion and assignment.

“It’s disappointing that the church has assigned a person here who has shown a great deal of hostility to the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community,” Supervisor Christina Olague, a bisexual who was raised as a Catholic, said at the board meeting, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

U.S. denounces arrest of LGBT activists in Zimbabwe

The State Department on Aug. 23 denounced two anti-LGBT raids and the arrest of 44 LGBT civil rights activists in Zimbabwe.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in prepared remarks, “The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on Aug. 11 and a second raid by police on Aug. 20. Several of these members sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges. The government of Zimbabwe has also targeted these same members’ homes and singled out their families for interrogation and harassment.”

Nuland also said, “The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists. We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights.”

The U.S. is calling on the government of Zimbabwe to “end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people,” Nuland concluded.