VIDEO: Sen. Kay Hagan gives keynote address at HRC’s Carolinas Gala Dinner
February 23, 2009
On Saturday, the Human Rights Campaign hosted its annual Carolinas Gala Dinner in Charlotte, NC. We were pleased to have Sen. Kay Hagan, the freshman Democratic senator who defeated Elizabeth Dole (R) in last year's elections, give the keynote address to our attendees. Equality North Carolina in Raleigh, NC and Denise Palm-Beck, the current Board Chair of The Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte of Charlotte, both received the Equality Award for their contributions to the progress of LGBT civil rights.
Watch the video of Sen. Hagan's address:
HRC President Joe Solmonese also spoke at the Carolina Dinner. Watch the video of Joe's remarks:
The prepared text of Joe's speech is below:
I’m honored to be back in the Carolina’s and to be in the company of the heroic people and organizations you are honoring tonight. I am especially thrilled that Senator Kay Hagan is with us tonight. At the Human Rights Campaign we were proud and honored to endorse Kay Hagan in her run for the United States Senate – not only because she was running against Elizabeth Dole – although that was a very good reason, but because Kay Hagan embodies courage and fundamental fairness and a vision for America’s future that clearly includes us. I hope you’ll join me in thanking our dinner co-chairs and the entire committee for another fabulous event. I want to thank our incredibly generous Corporate Sponsors – in particular Bank of America and Wachovia. And I want to congratulate Denise Palm-Beck and our friends at Equality North Carolina as well. And I’m very glad to see that those of you who are gay have escaped with your homosexuality in tact. As you know, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out Conference landed here recently. I hope you’ll join me in thanking the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality and Wayne Bessen of Truth Wins Out for bringing some reason to this band of snake oil salesmen and showing that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never pray away the gays. Two weeks ago, I got into a cab and said something I haven’t said in almost a decade. “Take me to the White House. And step on it!” I can’t tell you how happy that made me feel. Although I did wonder for a moment if the cab driver would actually take me. Like maybe he hadn’t gotten the memo yet that – you know – short, relatively fit people like me would be asking to go to the White House now. Well, I wish you could have been with me. To be welcomed, to see people you actually know and who actually like you, and to take a seat in the East Room of the White House as President Obama signed the first bill of his administration, the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act, was both thrilling and inspiring. He signed the bill with a number of pens so that the pioneering members of the women’s movement and the women who led the fight for its passage in Congress could each have one. Sitting there, listening to this new President talk about his vision of equality for women in the workplace instilled two very important thoughts in me. The first was that he is a deeply honorable man, a man who truly has the potential to transform this country and to take us to a place we never thought possible – both as a community and as a nation. But it was not lost on me that the first bill he chose to sign helped women. Because women, you see, don’t just make up more than fifty percent of the electorate in this country. They are, as a constituency group, enormously powerful. I know this, because remember, for more than a decade before coming to the Human Rights Campaign, I was one – not a woman, but a seemingly powerful leader of that constituency. So why am I telling you this? Because I think, in fact I know, that we will someday look back on this time and on this administration and know that we made more progress for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans than at any other time in our history. But – and there’s a purposeful But here – it will NOT happen if we place ALL of our hopes and aspirations in the hands of one man, however decent and well meaning. No President or Congress is going to seize this moment of opportunity FOR us OR without us. WE need to be what we have the potential to be – an incredibly powerful and engaged constituency. And one, to whom, at long last, THEY must feel ACCOUNTABLE. Now I can hear your collective exhaustion from here. I mean, didn’t we just do all that work to put all these people in place to pass these bills and implement change? Yes, we did. But that was a long, hard, sometimes expensive first step in a long journey. And, unfortunately, there’s more to do. So yes, we have a new President and a new Congress who want to do right by us. But trust me, we will have to push them hard and hold their feet to the fire every single day. We made our disappointment abundantly clear when President Obama asked Rick Warren to take part in his Inaugural, but we also stood strongly with Eric Holder who will be the most pro-LGBT Attorney General in history. So what does the work look like in the year ahead? Because of your support, because you continue to stand with us, we will finally pass the inclusive Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Bill. You think that’s going to be easy? The last time we took this fight on, our opponents launched a campaign telling religious leaders they could be arrested for what they said from the pulpit. We met them at every turn, we unleashed our groundtroops, we answered their lies and distortions. And we won. And we’re ready to take that fight on again. And this time, the end of the line won’t be a veto threat from George Bush. President Obama will sign that bill proudly. And then, we will pass an Employment Non-Discrimination Bill that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. Why? Because even though we did not start this journey where we wanted to, we have spent the last year educating and inspiring members of Congress that a bill that protects our entire community is, ultimately the one that must land on this President’s desk. And thanks to you and your hard work, that will happen as well. And we will continue to invest in improving life for members of our community here in the Carolina’s. Whether its through HRC’s Corporate Project or our Health Care Equality Index or the heroic work of our Religion and Faith Program. We continue to look for settings where we can change the dynamic and experience for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. So, at the Human Rights Campaign, where there are more opportunities than ever before to advance equality for our community, we’ll keep working hard for all of you. And the next time I jump in a cab and head to the White House for a bill signing, that set of pens the President gives away? Women got the first ones and deservedly so. But I’ve got my eyes on a full set of pens just for us. Presidential equality pens. The pens that finally deliver the hope and promise and change to hard working loving Americans who just happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. Thanks to you, that day is close at hand. Thank you very much.
Issues: Coming Out
May 17, 2013
March 20, 2013
Issues: Federal Advocacy
May 17, 2013
May 18, 2013