At the HRC's National Dinner last night, former president Bill Clinton gave a impassioned speech about the importance of the many victories the LGBT community has won since he last addressed the HRC back in 1997. Clinton also pointed out the work that still needs to be done in the South and abroad to bring about full LGBT equality.
The speech is about 30 minutes long, but is well worth a watch AFTER THE JUMP...
Some memorable lines from the speech, if you don't have the time for the full address:
>"I remember so well when I came here in 1997 and I ask everybody to stand up who was involved in our government and a lot of people stood up. As an example of how far we have come, believe it or not 17 years ago that was a big deal because everybody could remember a time when no one who was LGBT who was working in the government in a prominent position could stand up in public and say so. That's how far we've come. Everybody was cheering that night because it was such a unusual feeling. Now it would be unusual if anybody noticed. And that's a good thing."
>"I love HRC, the initials are great, the other person with those initials once famously said as Secretary of State that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."
>"This campaign that the HRC is going to undertake in Arkansa, Mississippi, and Alabama - if you had asked me ten years ago if this was a good idea I would have offered to personally pay for Chad's psychiatric treatment. But one thing we have learned is that no human heart is immune to an honest outreach. No one can forever ignore their personal experience. If you asked somebody who the most conservative member of President George W. Bush's Administration was, most people would say Dick Cheney. But Dick Cheney was for gay marriage and gay rights because of his daughter, because of his personal, human experience."
>"I also want to say that i think the effort to take the HRC international is profoundly important. There are people who lost their battle to hold you back in the United States who think you can take the show on the road and win somewhere else. And there are about 80 countries now that have very serious restrictions on LGBT rights."
>"You should be happy and proud tonight, I've never seen a civil rights movement, at least in our country, move as far, as fast as your movement ever. But don't kid yourself, there's a lot of people who are left out and left behind. There's still some barriers that need to be brought down. And all over the world, there are young people who still have to cower in fear of their governments, their leaders, and sometimes their families. They need the poetry of your campaign."
There was conspicuously no mention of Don't Ask, Don't Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act, both of which were signed by Clinton while in office.