Thirty-four years ago, a man named Harvey Milk was elected to serve the people of San Francisco. Thirty-three years ago, he was assassinated along with the Mayor of San Francisco. He was not assassinated for his politics, nor for his fervor, or even because he was about to pass some outrageous law.He was assassinated for being gay.
His final campaign manager wrote this about him “"What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us." Sadly, when he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet the torch he cared for all of us fell with him. I stand before you today, and I have imagined that same just and righteous world, I have picked up our fallen leaders torch, and I am setting out to make Harvey Milk’s dream a reality for all of us.
On January 31st, Governor Quinn signed a bill into law, which made civil unions possible. This month, while testifying before Congress, representatives of the United States Navy said the Navy will allow same-sex couples to wed in ceremonies on its bases officiated by Navy chaplains after the "Don’t ask don’t tell" policy is officially repealed, in spite of the “Defense of Marriage Act.
These are truly historic decisions, these were brave decisions made by brave men and women who acted in the best interests of all Americans, I am waiting for the United States Congress to act that way, and I am waiting for the President of the United States to act that way.
We cannot accept this bill as a total victory. We cannot accept anything short of equal rights, if we do; we deny ourselves the right to be acknowledged as full equals in the eyes of the law, the community, the military, the nation and indeed the world. The infamous Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books. The language is clear and offensive to all Americans who envision a nation where all citizens are truly free.
We cannot accept a society where one group of people is forced to live outside the boundaries of that society. We cannot accept a society that will not acknowledge the right of people to love who they choose, and to receive all the benefits accorded the same unions between heterosexual couples. We cannot accept this bill, as monumental as it is, as the end of the war for equality for all people, all citizens of the United States of America.
President Obama has stated he will not fund the Defense of Marriage Act, nor will he support any law that openly discriminates against any American. I say that is not enough. I say the Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed, that the government of the United States must stand for freedom of all Americans.
I say we must stand up and be counted, and let our government know it is time to end the prejudice and hate. In order for that to happen, we need a voice that will be heard on the Floor for of the House in the United Sates Congress, a voice that will not falter, a voice that will speak loudly and clearly in demanding the rights of all Americans be upheld."
As your representative in the United States Congress, my goal will be to repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and to create legislation that prevents any state from inhibiting the rights of its citizens to love who we will, to live, as we will fully secure in the knowledge that we are free from harm and bias.