New York, New York
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. Good evening. (Applause.) Good evening, good evening, good evening. Happy Pride! (Applause.) I have things to say. (Laughs.)
Rosario, thank you for that and for all you do. I see Rosario at different places around our country and, actually, our world. You are such an incredible leader. You are always stepping up, always staying active in the fight for equality and justice. And I thank you so very much. So, on behalf of all of us, thank you Rosario Dawson. (Applause.)
And thank you also to the chairman of the Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison — (applause); Governor Kathy Hochul; Governor Gretchen Whitmer — (applause) — there she is; Congressman Robert Garcia — (applause); and all of the state and local elected officials.
So, friends, as this Pride month reaches its peak, I will repeat what I have said for decades: Pride is patriotism. Pride is patriotism. Because there is nothing more patriotic than celebrating freedom, including the freedom to love who you love and be who you are. (Applause.)
And during Pride, we celebrate, of course, a lot. We have a lot to celebrate, in terms of the progress our country has made to secure freedoms and protect rights. Often through struggle and sacrifice have we achieved that progress.
In fact, earlier today, I visited the Stonewall Inn and reflected on the determination and dedication of patriots like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. (Applause.)
I also reflected on a very dear friend of mine, who I know is looking down and thinking about these moments with great pride. His name is and he was Jim Rivaldo. And Jim — some of you may know he helped elect Harvey Milk to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. And Jim helped elect me as District Attorney of San Francisco in 2003. He was my campaign manager.
And Jim would often tell stories about the early days of the gay rights movement in San Francisco — stories about the importance of bringing folks together from the civil rights movement and the labor movement and the women’s rights movement to fight for and to secure freedom.
Jim understood, as do we, that no one should be made to fight alone. And together, standing on the shoulders of great leaders who fought and bled for the strength of this movement, today we mark exactly eight years since the Obergefell decision, when marriage equality became the law of the land. (Applause.)
And as we reflect on how we felt and where we were eight years ago today, let us always remember that in celebrating the progress, that progress is not inevitable. It does not just happen. It takes steadfast determination and dedication — the kind of determination and dedication possessed by people like Jim Obergefell.
Jim is here tonight. Jim, where are you? There you are. (Applause.) It took a whole lot of courage, Jim, for you to be front and center in this fight and to always have shown such grace and dignity and strength in a way that inspired so many of us. Thank you for making America more just and more equal. (Applause.)
And so, while we must always celebrate our hard-won progress, this movement also demands that we be clear-eyed about the present, about the moment we are currently in.
And it saddens me to think and then talk about aspects of the moment we are in — a moment when LGBTQ+ people and families and freedoms and basic rights are under attack in our country.
In 2020, hate crimes in the United States, including violence against LGBTQ+ people, surged to the highest rate in over a decade.
This year, extremists have called to, quote, “eradicate” LGBTQ+ people. The Texas GOP official party platform now claims that being LGBTQ+ is, quote, “abnormal.”
The seriousness of these threats have required HRC — the Human Rights Campaign — to declare the first-ever state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people.
This is a moment when the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood and RBG — will soon rule in a case that could allow businesses to refuse to serve members of the community.
And so far in 2023, these extremist so-called leaders have proposed and passed more than 75 new anti-equality bills across our country.
A law in Tennessee targets transgender children, who will lose access to the healthcare they need.
A law in Florida silences our teachers, people who are in the most noblest of professions, dedicating their lives to teaching our children, who now have to worry that they could lose their job if they have a family photograph on their classroom desk.
A law in Idaho that criminalizes doctors and nurses who provide lifesaving, gen- — gender-affirming care, a law that could sentence — a law that could sentence medical providers to prison for up to 10 years.
Across our nation, in states like Texas and Utah, these extremists dare to ban books by LGBTQ+ authors or those that have LGBTQ+ characters. Book bans in this year of our Lord 2023. Imagine.
And, friends, as we are clear-eyed about this moment, let us all see, also, the larger context in which this is happening. Because this fight is not only about teachers in Florida or young people in Tennessee. This fight is about all of us, because when you attack the rights of any American, you attack the rights of all Americans. (Applause.)
And let’s be clear about where this is headed.
These extremists have a plan to push their agenda as far and as wide as they possibly can.
Their blueprint is to attack hard-won rights and freedoms state by state, to attack the right to live as your authentic self, to attack the right to vote, to attack the rights of workers to organize, to attack the right to make decisions about one’s own body.
And, by the way, a year after Dobbs, it is clear these extremists also plan to ban abortion nationwide. Nationwide.
But here’s the thing. I have news for these extremists: We’re not having that. (Applause.) We’re not having that.
And I do believe that the majority of Americans agree that a very important attribute of a true leader is the ability to have empathy, to truly have some curiosity, concern, and care for the struggles of other people.
And this, we have seen, has been the approach of people from every background, every party, and every community who made their voice heard through their vote in recent years in states like Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, and right here in New York, Governor.
They voted for governors who vetoed bills that would hurt transgender children and who signed bills to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.
And again, thank you, Governor Hochul, Governor Whitmer, for your courage and your leadership. (Applause.)
Voters sent a pro-equality majority to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, to Minnesota’s Senate, and to the United States Senate. Voters — (applause) — voters elected Maura Healey in Massachusetts and Governor Tina Kotek in Oregon. (Applause.)
Americans voted for leaders who stand for freedom, equality, and empathy — leaders like President Joe Biden. (Applause.)
And let’s remember who our President is. I know we all do remember 2012, when, before many others, Joe Biden — (laughter) — publicly supported marriage equality. (Applause.)
And in 2020, while the other side continued their attacks on the freedom of LGBTQ+ people, our platform promised to not only protect but to expand the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people. (Applause.)
We retain our optimism, all of us, because that year, 81 million Americans voted for us and for that platform, and they sent us to the White House. And together, because they believed, with your support, we have been able to make important progress, including to address violence against LGBTQ+ Americans; including to protect LGBTQ+ Americans in housing and employment, healthcare and education.
And of course, in December — this past December, with your help, President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act. (Applause.)
And back to the earlier point about Jim Rivaldo, we remember that that day that we celebrated the signing of that act — we remembered that part of it is because Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud, in terms of who they were coming for and how they are thinking about taking rights from people.
But I will tell you that the day that the President signed that act was such a special day for everyone here and the hundreds and hundreds of people that came to the White House — families, people from every background, every walk of life — understanding what it means to have a president, to have an administration who has their back. What it means to know that when the court may take away a right, that we have a president in place who will figure out how to protect that right.
And so, when I think about where we are right now, I think that there is a lot to reflect on; there is a lot to celebrate. But we must be clear-eyed about the challenges before us.
I think about how we have also come full circle. And for me, that day when he signed that act, I was thinking about almost 20 years ago when, in 2004, I was the elected district attorney of San Francisco and I had the honor to stand in City Hall in San Francisco and perform some of our country’s first marriages of same-sex couples.
Ten years ago this week, as attorney general of California, as you saw in the video, after I refused to defend Prop 8 and the court struck it down, I had the privilege to pronounce my friends, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, spouses for life, again, at City Hall. (Applause.) This time, it was on the Harvey Milk Balcony.
And last December, of course, at the White House, Kris and Sandy were there on the White House lawn with their four sons.
All this to say, a hard-won victory for freedom. An example of what is possible when we fight together. Elections matter. Elections matter. And strong coalitions make change.
We know we are truly stronger when we fight side by side for freedom.
So, in this moment, when freedoms are under attack, we know what we must do. Together, we must stand in defense of freedom and democracy, civil rights and human rights. And I do believe that when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for.
So let us stand every day in the fight for all people to live free from discrimination and to participate equally in our society. Let us fight to pass the Equality Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. (Applause.) And — and the legislation that restores the protections of Roe v Wade. (Applause.)
And my final point, then, is this: Democrats, we stand for these freedoms fueled by our love of country. We love our country. We believe in the promise of our country. And to fight for the ideals of our beloved country is one of the truest forms of patriotism.
And that’s who we are — understanding what is at stake and knowing we must fight for all that, as we have said so many times, is about freedom and equality and justice. And when we fight with pride, we win.
Thank you, all. (Applause.)