VIDEO: Senator Dianne Feinstein and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at HRC’s LA Dinner
March 18, 2009
We've posted two additional speeches from HRC's Los Angeles Gala Dinner and Hero Awards on March 14. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who campaigned against Proposition 8 in a statewide television ad, was a keynote speaker at the event:
My heart sank when I learned that Proposition 8 had carried a majority of voters in our great state last November. This loss, despite the fact that our state had simultaneously and overwhelmingly voted for change and recent polls had indicated that a majority of voters supported equal marriage rights, was very surprising. But a great deal of money had been spent to distort marriage equality and to cast these equal rights as something dangerous to children and to all marriage. Without a doubt, this is a setback. But the final verdict has not been rendered. The struggle will go on and I believe we will be victorious. I firmly believe that equal marriage rights will one day proudly be the law of this great state.
Senator Feinstein drew upon the "personal evolution" of her own views on LGBT equality as the base of her optimism about marriage equality in California:
As Californians come to know the 18,000 couples married since June of last year, more will see them as loving, stable marriages between two people willing to make a lifelong commitment to share the good and the bad of life. And above all, life is so short. What's wrong with people being just plain happy together?
...I know from experience, that it's tough to lose. I've lost some. But time doesn't stop. And it's on your side. Because like me - like my views - views do change as people learn, know and understand. As they see the smiles that were on the film that we saw earlier today. As they see the happiness. As they watch children have a home. People change. And that's the change we need - just about 5% more.
...Continue the support and ability to speak in a unified, direct and strong voice. You have come a very long way in the 40 years I have watched. But the journey is not finished. We must peservere until the day when acceptance triumphs prejudice. I will support you in this quest - and it will happen.
Watch her full speech here:
In his remarks at the dinner, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who presided over the marriage ceremonies of 11 gay and lesbian couples when marriage equality was legal in California, lamented the ease by which the state constitution can be amended to the detriment of equality:
When we have a system that requires 2/3 vote to pass a bond or a budget, but only a scant majority to strip away fundamental rights, then we know our system remains fundamentally broken. When one couple's marriage can be dissolved by others at the ballot box, we know that real equality remains out of reach.
While Villaraigosa expressed his disappointment over the passage of Prop 8, the mayor invoked the tragic death of Larry King, the gay Oxnard, CA student who was murdered by a classmate, to stress the importance of the LGBT community continuing to challenge LGBT prejudice that festers outside of gay urban areas:
Larry King's memory and the struggles of scared and isolated kids and young couples all across our nation remind us what really is at stake. They remind us that the road to ultimate victory and full equality runs far beyond the familiar comforts of West Hollywood and San Francisco. We must take the fight and our message of hope from the coastal blue to the inland red. ...This is our chance to add our voices to America's story of progress. This is our opportunity to usher in a new age of equality. To reach out to the children and families afraid to be themselves. And to give hope to all those waiting for the day when all couples can join hands. When all of us can celebrate the right to marry. When the doors of justice swing open to anyone--regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. And when our fight leads to a future of liberty and civil rights for every American.
Watch his full speech:
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