Lynch made the remarks at Lambda Legal’s annual reception in D.C. in the same month the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry across the nation.
“After decades of untold struggle, unyielding advocacy and unfathomable bravery, it is clear that we are in the midst of a national awakening,” Lynch said. “Tonight’s celebration is a commemoration of historic change that has already arrived and that will shape our country for years to come. And it is a tribute to the indomitable determination you displayed by standing up for yourselves and your community in the face of concerted opposition and immense challenge.”
Noting that 30 years ago the LGBT community faced a setback when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld state sodomy bans in the decision of Bowers v. Hardick — a decision that was later overturned — Lynch said now LGBT people “have the enthusiastic partnership of the Department of Justice and the full and unwavering support of the President of the United States.”
“We will never stop working to spread a broader recognition of the support, consideration and compassion that all Americans should receive,” Lynch said. “And we will continue to ensure that this nation lives up to a pledge made to young people the world over: that they can look forward to new days filled with hope, with possibility, with tranquility and with joy, because over time and with the help of friends and allies growing more numerous by the day, it will get better.”
Lynch was well-received by event attendees, who were comprised mostly of young D.C. professionals wearing suits and ties. The audience offered her a standing applause both before and after she took to the podium.
Despite progress, Lynch said more work remains and battles must be fought, making a veiled reference to religious freedom bills pending in state legislatures by saying, “We have already seen some of the legislative strategies that opponents will use to undermine marriage equality.”
“Difficult legal issues, from adoption to immigration, remain unresolved,” Lynch added. “And even today, in some states, LGBT individuals can be fired from their jobs for simply being who they are.”
Lynch didn’t made any news on policy initiatives during her speech, but recalled the Obama administration’s support passing of a trans-inclusive ENDA, saying, “I renew that call today.”
Saying transgender people are “facing new and difficult legal issues that extend far beyond marriage,” Lynch noted the Justice Department filed a legal brief on behalf of a transgender inmate in Georgia who was deprived of hormone therapy. Lynch also noted — to the applause of the audience — the Justice Department nows interprets the gender protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to cover anti-trans discrimination.
“Put simply, we understand that this nation’s ongoing fight for equality has many fronts, and we cannot afford to grow complacent when there is so much left to do,” Lynch said. “We must – and we will – keep working to bring about the more equal society, the more just future and the more perfect Union to which we must always aspire. You all know the challenges we face, but you also know what it takes to surmount them and to create positive, lasting change in this country – because you’ve done it, time and again, for more than four decades. And you have seen the amazing results.”