HRC Celebrates A Year of Victories
The nation’s largest LGBT-rights organization was in celebration mode Saturday night Oct. 5, marking a year of historic victories from the ballot box to the Supreme Court of the United States.
More than 3,400 attended the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner at D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the organization’s 17th annual black-tie gala, with all that had been achieved in the past year on full display.
"Here at this largest-ever HRC National Dinner, we have so much to celebrate," HRC President Chad Griffin told the crowd. "Just since we were here last year: Sen. Tammy Baldwin elected, President Obama re-elected. More Democrats standing with us, and more Republicans standing up to join us. The destruction of DOMA and its two decades of discrimination and marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota and, yes, California too."
But while Griffin acknowledged the many steps forward that had been taken in such a short period of time, he reiterated that a "dark wall of discrimination" has created two Americas and the fight for equality is not over until "every single American in all 50 of our states can share in those same victories." Griffin said a focus must be maintained on not just those states at the brink of legalizing same-sex marriage, such as Illinois and Hawaii, but those states where LGBT people are still denied the most basic protections.
Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to attend the dinner, but canceled amid the ongoing government shutdown. In his stead, President Barack Obama delivered a video address.
"As you held this gala last year, the Defense of Marriage Act was still the law of the land," Obama said on the big screens. "Loving, committed gay and lesbian couples were treated differently than loving straight couples. You knew it was wrong, I knew it was wrong, and in June the Supreme Court finally decided it was wrong."
"We’re not there yet," Obama added. "As I said in my inaugural address, our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. That’s why I’ll keep pushing Congress to pass measures like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to give workers everywhere, including transgender Americans, the protection they deserve. And that’s why I’ll keep urging Republicans in Congress to reopen the government, restore the services people depend on and allow our dedicated public servants - gay and straight - to return to work."