Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
Los Angeles, California

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  I want to thank these extraordinary leaders for being here today for a very important conversation that we will have about the challenges facing our nation, but our collective commitment to address these challenges in a way that inspires hope and optimism and grace and dignity and love.  And so, I’m looking forward to our conversation.
I want to recognize and thank Senator Padilla for being here.  I watched your work in the halls of the United States Senate and you represent California in such an extraordinary way.
Congressman Jimmy Gomez — just always fighting.  Fighting for your district and fighting for our state and for our country.  Thank you for that.
Of course, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, thank you for your extraordinary leadership of our state and the work you do every day.
And, of course, our mayor, Eric Garcetti.  Thank you.  Thank you.
So, I think we all would agree that, in particular, these last few years have, in many ways, tested our faith — tested our ability to believe that everything will be okay, should be okay, can be okay.
Over the last few years, we’ve experienced — as a community, as a society, as a country, as a world — so much loss, unpredictability. 
And, of course, one of the discussions that we will have today is about also what we’ve seen in terms of a rise in hate and misinformation.
And so, I do believe — and I, my entire life, believed this — but I think we, collectively, know, in particular now: We need faith.  We need faith. 
I know that no matter the differences among us in a society, there’s so much more in common than what separates us.  And I think most people, regardless of who they are, would agree.
We need faith in each other, in our nation, and in our future.  And so, that’s why we are coming together today with a goal of instilling in folks a belief that gives them a sense of hope and optimism in themselves, in their community and our future. 
So, the faith leaders who are gathered here today are representative of many different faiths, many different communities, but share a common purpose, which is to bring healing and hope and a sense of community to all people.
So, our discussion today will focus on, I’m sure, a number of issues.  But in particular, there are two — which is, one, what I believe is something that requires all of the leaders at this table, which is what we have been experiencing in terms of what I call an “epidemic of hate,” where we have seen so many communities who are being targeted — individuals who are being targeted simply because of who they are. 
And we combine that then with what we have seen in terms of misinformation that now, because of this age that we are in and how quickly it can spread unchecked, how ubiquitous it is, what it does to fan the flames of hate, which, of course, has always and recently vividly manifested itself in violent acts targeting innocent people and their families and their community and our nation as a result of those acts.  So, we will talk about that. 
And also, I would like to talk with these faith leaders about the impending decision from the United States Supreme Court that we believe will undo the very principles and premise of the importance of the privacy, the right that Roe v. Wade stands for.  And so, we will talk a bit about that.
And I will say that, on the first issue, a subset — but a very, very specific subset — that we must address is how hate manifests itself in violent acts, most of which are committed with the use of guns, and what, therefore, that requires in terms of sensible laws for any society that should be rules-based with a goal of being a civil society.  And so, we can talk a bit about that.
And then, on the issue of Roe, it, of course — basically, the premise of Roe and the power of Roe is it is about saying that people should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies — that women should have that right and have unfettered access to reproductive healthcare.
So, that conversation, of course, in my mind, is a conversation that requires us to also discuss whether we value the concept of self-determination — the ability of an individual to make decisions about their own life and the future of their life and the choices that will directly impact so many other choices.  The issue of self-determination.
I do believe that when we look at the challenge that we will face when that decision comes down, a part of it will be that it will directly, if not indirectly, impact other privacy rights, including the right to have access to contraception and the right to marry the person you love. 
And how will we then — as those who are guided by our faith, who believe in the best of what we are and who we can be — how will we speak with and talk about the people who are going to be directly impacted by that decision and how we uplift them in a way that they do not feel alone and without options.
And I think it is very important to say — and I’m going to close my comments in a moment — it’s very important, I think, for us to agree and it’s an important point to make that to support Roe v. Wade and all it stands for does not mean giving up core beliefs.  It is simply about agreeing that a woman should be able to make that decision with her faith leader, with her family, with her physician — and that the government should not be making that decision for her.
And I can’t end my comments without mentioning that, today, Louisiana is on the path to pass a law — or passed a law that will take away this right with no exception for rape or incest.
So, the threat to all of these principles and priorities is very clear and imminent. 
And with that, I will close by again saying that — that you all, as our faith leaders, have done extraordinary work, in particular of these last few years, to remind folks that they are not alone, that we are in this together, that there is a higher purpose, and that we should be guided by all that we know — that that gives us a chance of shining a light in the midst of dark moments and dark days.
So, I look forward to our conversation and talking about how we’re going to build the coalition based on these shared principles and beliefs.
And with that, I thank you all.  And I thank you.  We’re now going to thank the press for your attention, and we’re going to have a conversation.
So, thank you, all.

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