Pelosi Remarks at ‘Friends of the Pink Triangle’ Ceremony Commemorating LGBT Victims of the Holocaust

San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the ‘Friends of the Pink Triangle’ ceremony commemorating the LGBT victims of the Holocaust.  Below are the Leader’s remarks as prepared:

“Good morning.  Thank you very much Patrick Carney, Founder of the Friends of the Pink Triangle.  I’d like to acknowledge Mayor Ed Lee, Mayor Willie Brown, the 2012 San Francisco Pride Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal, Dot Jones, the Celebrity Grand Marshal; ‘Coach Beast’ on GLEE, and the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band.

“Today, we come together to remember; to reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust; to recognize how far we’ve come and how much we have left to do on the march to equality and respect.  Standing on Twin Peaks, above this extraordinary pink triangle for the 17th time, we cherish the freedom denied to the victims of one of the darkest chapters in human history.  As the Friends of the Pink Triangle remind us, we recall: ‘what can happen when hatred and bigotry become law’ – and pledge to work to ensure our laws reflect our values.

“Just consider the stark differences between the days of the Nazis and today.  Then, as others have said, in the concentration camps, gays and lesbians had no choice but to wear the pink triangle.  Today, we wear it of our own free will.  Then, the triangle was a symbol of discrimination.  Today, it is a symbol of pride.  Then, the triangle represented the ultimate betrayal of equality, the ultimate manifestation of hate and inhumanity.  Today, we celebrate our drive for ‘global equality’ – the theme of this year’s Pride weekend.

“Equality is a core value of American history; it is our heritage and our hope.  And to make real the promise of ‘global equality,’ we know that the United States must lead, at home and abroad.  In recent years, still in the shadow of the Stonewall riots, still inspired by Harvey Milk and so many other pioneers, we have led.  We have made progress.  We have brought the crisis of HIV/AIDS out of the shadows and made historic investments in treatment, research, care, and prevention – in San Francisco, across the country, and around the world.  Congress passed a fully-inclusive hate crimes law and discarded the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in the dustbin of history.  Under President Obama’s leadership, we removed barriers to equal immigration rights for same-sex couples.  We acted to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees, ensured foreign aid promotes LGBT rights, and enlisted international organizations in the fight against discrimination.  The President made it his policy to no longer defend the shameful Defense of Marriage Act in court – and, a few weeks ago, for the first time, a Circuit Court of Appeals struck down this discriminatory law.  We all witnessed history when the President of the United States spoke out in favor of marriage equality.  And we all look forward to the day when every American family is treated equally in the eyes of the law.

“Despite these steps forward, we know that more must be done.  In our country, LGBT Americans have enjoyed the fruits of our progress.  Yet they still confront the bitter realities of bullying in schools, inequality in marriage and in the workplace, and discrimination in our laws.  That’s why we must keep up the charge for a fully-inclusive ENDA, we must end discrimination in all its forms and preserve the rights of all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, and we must fight to overturn Prop. 8 in California and end DOMA nationwide, so that all of America’s families can enjoy the blessings of equal protection under the law.

“Around the world, members of LGBT communities may not be marked by a pink triangle anymore.  Yet their lives are still marked by violence and prejudice of the worst kind.  That’s why we must make it a priority to put an end to laws criminalizing an entire group’s sexual orientation, we must increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care abroad, and we must work to live up to the statement of Secretary Clinton: that ‘gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.’

“The pink triangle is a clear reminder to never forget those persecuted, imprisoned, and murdered for who they were, to never stand idly by in the face of injustice and intolerance; and to never neglect the memory of ‘what can happen when hatred and bigotry become law.’  The theme of ‘global equality’ is a clarion call to action to speak out in the names of those forever silenced because of their sexual orientation, to heed the lessons of history in our own time; and to build on our progress toward equal rights, dignity, and respect for all.  With the presence of so many leaders here today and every year, we are sending a powerful message: from Twin Peaks, to Congress, to nations worldwide, we will work to advance understanding, educate others about the past, and act to prevent atrocities in the future.  We will continue to wear the pink triangle as a source of pride.  We will remember, reflect, and advance the cause of equality, now and in generations to come.”

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