Let’s raise our glasses to President Obama who kept his promise; the Democrats in Congress who voted for repeal; and the eight Republican Senators and 15 House Republicans who voted with us on the right side of history.
Let us drink a toast to SLDN and so many others who have committed their lives to this work. To the brave men and women who now serve in the military and are risking their lives for our freedom every day. To those men and women who had to serve in silence and are not here to celebrate with us, let us take a moment to remember them and their families. We truly owe them a debt of gratitude.
Today we have seen a significant first, passage by the U.S. Congress of LGBT stand-alone legislation for equality that will be signed by our president.
Today we need to celebrate that equality. We need to take a moment in our ongoing fight for equality to think of how far we have come. From those who fought at Stonewall to those who fight around the world for us today and will now be able to do so proudly as openly gay and lesbian.
Many of us never thought we would see this day in our lifetimes. We work every day to make some progress for all those who have yet to be equal. We fight for those future generations of LGBT individuals so that they may grow up in a world that sees them for who they are not for the label that someone attaches to them.
We fight every day for the chance to live our lives to the fullest whatever that is for each individual. And after we celebrate today we must still be vigilant to see that this repeal is completed. That the discharges stop and that those who were discharged from the military and want to return are given the opportunity to do so.
But we must also continue that fight tomorrow not just for us but for all who still fight for equality. For those who want to become legal American citizens. For those who aren’t guaranteed equal employment opportunities, for women who are still fighting sexism and for those who still fight rampant racism even in our own community. We fight for all of them because if one of us isn’t equal none of us are.
But tonight, as we sit with our friends and families, let us remember how far we have come. And let us give a prayer of thanks that we live in a nation that may not always get it right, where it may take too long to recognize and correct the wrongs, but where eventually we do the right thing and where we have the right to speak up and speak out and demand that change.