Good evening all. Thank you for joining us tonight as we celebrate the arts and their role in the pursuit of equality for all, regardless of gender or ability or sexual orientation. We take pride in our diversity, our different orientations, and our faith in the capacity of the human spirit to promote dignity through art.
When celebrating the idea of equality for all, I stress the word “all.” Each one of us. We are unique individuals and fellow, equal members of society. Let us demonstrate that fact through our words and music. And let us continue to work toward ensuring that no one now, nor ever in the future, feels excluded from society because of their color, their gender, or their orientation.
In practice, true equality is difficult to achieve. Even when our democratic traditions tell us that equality for all is a self-evident principle, our differences sometimes stand in the way. Tonight, though, we celebrate those differences. We build upon those differences to develop a society in which every child is free to live in peace and pursue his or her dreams.
Democracy is most secure when all persons live freely without fear of violence. But in our differences there are vulnerabilities, and there are members of our communities in both the United States and Haiti who are subject to abuse because of their orientations. Let us end that abuse. Let us not tolerate the perpetrators of violence against our basic human rights. Our lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or intersex brothers and sisters are first and always human beings with inalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their dreams.
The art on display here tonight is an opportunity and a reminder to reaffirm our respect and tolerance for all people, and to say loudly and clearly: no matter who you are and no matter whom you love, we stand with you.
Pride is an affirmation of ourselves as human beings with human rights and human dignity. We need to celebrate pride every month and every day. Tonight, pride is song and dance, music, and spoken word. Pride is seeing our neighbors as partners in building our societies, eliminating prejudices, and assuring justice is applied equally to all. Tonight, let us take pride in our art, our differences, and our shared humanity. Thank you.