Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg
Remarks during the LGBT Pride Reception
June 25, 2014
Friends, colleagues, and honored guests, maraming salamat sa inyong pagdalo ngayong gabi. And happy Pride.
I am honored this evening to host representatives from the LGBT community, allies, and Embassy friends as we celebrate Pride Month.
In the early morning of June 28, 1969, New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, one of the few gay establishments in New York at the time. After years of harassment and discrimination, the raid ignited the LGBT community’s anger, riots ensued, and the gay rights movement in the United States began. One year after the Stonewall riots, activists staged the first Gay Rights Pride parades in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Since then, the entire month of June has become known as Gay Pride Month across the globe, where members and allies of the LGBT community publically celebrate diversity.
This year in particular, we have much to celebrate. Sixteen countries worldwide now officially recognize same-sex marriages. And since our event last year, we have seen historic changes in the United States. In fact, one year ago tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court declared the law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage, otherwise known as DOMA, unconstitutional. One of the effects of this decision was that the United States can now issue visas to spouses and fiancés of people of the same sex.
Same-sex marriage is now officially recognized in eighteen U.S. states (as compared with twelve this time last year) and eight more state courts have ruled that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. President Obama has announced that he will sign an executive order prohibiting contractors doing business with the U.S. government in the United States from discriminating against LGBT employees.
These changes are consistent with the U.S. Government’s view that gay rights are human rights. The United States is proud to have helped secure the passage of a historic 2011 UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for universal rights for LGBT people. As Secretary of State John Kerry has said: “Advancing equality for LGBT persons isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also fundamental to advancing democracy and human rights, which are at the foundation of American foreign policy.”
With that view in mind, we continue to work closely with the Philippines to advance LGBT equality. The “Being LGBT in Asia” project—a ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind analysis to understand the challenges faced by LGBT people in Asia—was an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Government’s regional mission of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP). It is an example of our commitment to build respect for and protect the human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.
In the Philippines, we are especially fortunate to have strong partners. The determined work of organizations like the Commission on Human Rights and TLF Share, among others, makes our advocacy effective. Without them, and many of you who work every day for a more equal and just Philippines, our goal would be harder to reach. These leaders ensure that human rights are extended to all Filipinos, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. To all the LGBT and human rights advocates here with us today, thank you for your work and I encourage you to continue your important efforts to bring equality to all Filipinos.
In spite of advances, there is still much work to be done. No matter what the country, members of the LGBT community continue to face harassment, violence, isolation, and discrimination. Pride month is the stance against this oppression. It is the stance against discrimination and hatred, and the promotion of self-affirmation, dignity, equal rights, and an increased visibility which celebrates and honors diversity. As members or advocates of the LBGT community, please be out, be proud, and know that the United States government supports you and your efforts to make the world more equal.
Maraming salamat. Magandang gabi sa inyo at mabuhay. Thank you very much, have a good evening, and again, happy Pride.