Hello lesbian and
gay Americans. I am proud to stand before you as a lesbian
today. With hearts full of love and the abiding faith in
justice, we have come to Washington to speak to America. We have
come to speak the truth of our lives and silence the liars. We
have come to challenge the cowardly Congress to end its
paralysis and exercise moral leadership. We have come to defend
our honor and win our equality. But most of all we have come in
peace and with courage to say, "America, this day marks the end
from exile of the gay and lesbian people. We are banished no
more. We wander the wilderness of despair no more. We are afraid
no more. For on this day, with love in our hearts, we have come
out, and we have come out across America to build a bridge of
understanding, a bridge of progress, a bridge as solid as steel,
a bridge to a land where no one suffers prejudice because of
their sexual orientation, their race, their gender, their
or their human difference."
I have been asked by the March organizers to speak in five
minutes about the far right, the far right which threatens the
construction of that bridge. The extreme right which has
targeted everyone of you and me for extinction. The supremacist
right which seeks to redefine the very meaning of democracy.
Language itself fails in this task, my friends, for to call our
opponents "The Right," states a profound untruth. They are wrong
- they are wrong morally, they are wrong spiritually, and they
are wrong politically.
The Christian supremacists are wrong spiritually when they
demonize us. They are wrong when they reduce the complexity and
beauty of our spirit into a freak show. They are wrong
spiritually, because, if we are the untouchables of America --
if we are the untouchables -- then we are, as Mahatma Gandhi
said, children of God. And as God's children we know that the
gods of our understanding, the gods of goodness and love and
righteousness, march right here with us today.
The supremacists who lead the anti-gay crusade are wrong
morally. They are wrong because justice is moral, and prejudice
is evil; because truth is moral and the lie of the closet is the
real sin; because the claim of morality is a subtle sort of
subterfuge, a stratagem which hides the real aim which is much
more secular. Christian supremacist leaders like Bill Bennett
and Pat Robertson, Lou Sheldon and Pat Buchanan, supremacists
like Phyllis Schlafley, Ralph Reid, Bill Bristol, R.J.,
Rushoodie -- the supremacists don't care about morality, they
care about power. They care about social control. And their
goal, my friends, is the reconstruction of American Democracy
into American Theocracy.
We who are gathered here today must prove the religious right
wrong politically and we can do it. That is our challenge. You
know they have made us into the communists of the nineties. And
they say they have declared cultural war against us. It's war
all right. It's a war about values. On one side are the values
that everyone here stands for. Do you know what those values
are? Traditional American values of democracy and pluralism. On
the other side are those who want to turn the Christian church
in government, those whose value is monotheism.
We believe in democracy, in many voices co-existing in peace,
and people of all faiths living together in harmony under a
common civil framework known as the United States Constitution.
Our opponents believe in monotheism. One way, theirs. One god,
theirs. One law, the Old Testament. One nation supreme, the
Christian Right one. Let's name it. Democracy battles theism in
Oregon, in Colorado, in Florida, in Maine, in Arizona, in
Michigan, in Ohio, in Idaho, in Washington, in Montana, in every
state where , my brothers and sisters, are leading the fight to
oppose the Right and to defend the United States Constitution.
We won the anti-gay measure in Oregon, but today 33 counties --
33 counties and municipalities face local versions of that
ordinance today. The fight has just begun. We lost the big fight
in Colorado, but, thanks to the hard work of all the people of
Colorado, the Boycott Colorado movement is working and we are
strong. And we are going to win our freedom there eventually.
To defeat the Right politically, my friends, is our challenge
when we leave this March. How can we do it? We've got to march
from Washington into action at home. I challenge everyone of
you, straight or gay, who can hear my voice, to join the
national gay and lesbian movement. I challenge you to join NGLTF
to fight the Right. We have got to match the power of the
Christian supremacists, member for member, vote for vote, dollar
for dollar. I challenge each of you, not just buy a T-shirt, but
get involved in your movement. Get involved! Volunteer!
Volunteer! Every local organization in this country needs you.
Every clinic, every hotline, every youth program needs you,
needs your time and your love.
And I also challenge our straight liberal allies, liberals and
libertarians, independent and conservative, republican or
radical. I challenge and invite you to open your eyes and
embrace us without fear. The gay rights movement is not a party.
It is not lifestyle. It is not a hair style. It is not a fad or
a fringe or a sickness. It is not about sin or salvation. The
gay rights movement is an integral part of the American promise
We, you and I, each of us, we are the descendants of a proud
tradition of people asserting our dignity. It is fitting that
the Holocaust Museum was dedicated the same weekend as this
March, for not only were gay people persecuted by the Nazi
state, but gay people are indebted to the struggle of the Jewish
people against bigotry and intolerance. It is fitting that the
NAACP marches with us, that feminist leaders march with us,
because we are indebted to those movements.
When all of us who believe in freedom and diversity see this
gathering, we see beauty and power. When our enemies see this
gathering, they see the millennium. Perhaps the Right is right
about something. We call for the end of the world as we know it.
We call for the end of racism and sexism and bigotry as we know
it. For the end of violence and discrimination and homophobia as
we know it. For the end of sexism as we know it. We stand for
freedom as we have yet to know it, and we will not be denied.