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Pelosi Honors Legacy of Bob Hattoy

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this evening in tribute to the late Bob Hattoy during a memorial ceremony in the U.S. Capitol.  Below are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:

'Today we celebrate the life and contributions of Bob Hattoy: environmentalist, activist, and friend.   We also pay tribute to the many who loved him, and grieve his loss. 

'As an environmentalist, Bob considered courage and creativity and courage to be renewable resources.  A committed progressive, he built bipartisan coalitions, working across the aisle to bring people together to protect our natural resources. 

'We Californians, for whom the environment is an ethic, are so proud of the national work Bob did with the Sierra Club, with the Clinton-Gore administration, and with the California Fish and Game Department to protect our precious national resources.  Today, Californians and visitors who look out at our beautiful coastline have Bob to thank for his years of work to help save our coast from offshore oil drilling.

'For the environment, Bob was a force for nature.  As an activist, he was a force of nature. 

'Intensely patriotic, Bob believed that our country's greatness was reflected in the inclusion of all people in the American family; in human rights and health care, particularly AIDS; and in the dignity and respect with which we treat each other.

'Bob's courage and creativity were manifest in the work he did for people with AIDS.  Before he became sick, Bob was active in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and resources for gay and lesbian people who were facing severe discrimination and being denied lifesaving treatments.  Bob understood that battling AIDS meant battling a disease as well as battling discrimination.  And when he personally became part of that struggle, Bob made a life-changing decision: rather than retreat, he stepped forward, shining a light on his situation and challenging the conscience of the country. 

'With his historic address to the 1992 Democratic National Convention and his work with the White House Office on AIDS, Bob was a public face of equality: serving as a gay man with AIDS at the leadership table at the highest levels of politics and government; helping shape a public health response to this national tragedy.

'I worked with him from the House Appropriations Committee to create a national and bipartisan response to the crisis of AIDS.  Bob was always a voice for resources, and a voice for dignity. 

'I am proud to have called Bob my dear friend for many years. Since we lost Bob, many of us here have been sharing years of stories, anecdotes and witticisms.  Bob's insights were often off-color, yet always on the mark.  Bob loved people and had a gift for using humor to face the most serious of life's challenges with a light heart.

'When I saw Bob just over 100 days ago at the beginning of the new Congress, he was, as usual, witty and hopeful.  We reflected briefly - and humorously - on some of the political events of the past 20 years, and Bob expressed great hopes for the new Congress, and for the challenges we were preparing to address. 

'Although he lived with AIDS for more than 15 years, AIDS took Bob from us too soon.  Today, as we grieve, we recognize Bob Pellham, Bob's longtime partner, as well as his brother Stephen and his sister Debbie, who all feel his loss acutely.

'As we go forward, we recommit ourselves to finding a cure, to providing treatment with dignity, and to bringing America another step closer to the full equality that is our heritage and our hope.'