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White House. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at the Human Rights Campaign 2024 Los Angeles Dinner

Los Angeles, CA

Thank you, Kelley. You and Becky are such an amazing power couple. Joe and I have really enjoyed getting to know you both. You have quickly established yourself as an inspiring leader of HRC, and we need you to continue to lead us with your grace and grit.

Good evening, everyone – you all look fabulous!

David Mixner meant so much to so many in this room, so I’d like to begin with his words: “You can walk through fear and be the one who describes colors of the sunset to those who sat back on the porch, or you can sit back on the porch and have the colors of the sunset described to you.”

You, the people in this room, have seen the colors of the sunset. You have walked through fear. And you’ve helped so many others do the same. It’s an honor to celebrate with you tonight.

When I was growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia and dreamed of what my life would become, I knew I wanted two things: a marriage like my parents – strong and loving and full of laughter – and a career.

I set out to find those things, but my path was a bit meandering.

It was the seventies – perhaps some of you remember: Vietnam, love beads, equal rights.

I wore my hair down to my waist, and so did most of the men I dated!

One day, I was asked on a date from out of the blue, and that evening, a handsome young Senator showed up at my door. I took one look at his perfect suit and his leather loafers and thought: well, it’s only one date.

One date eventually turned into a marriage proposal.

OK, if I’m being honest, it was five proposals. This was not a part of my plan!

And more than that, it wasn’t just my heart on the line.

As many of you know, years before, Joe’s wife, Neilia, and baby daughter were killed in a car accident. The boys, Beau and Hunter, had to be in the hospital for many months, and after all that they had lost, I knew that if I said yes to Joe, it had to be forever.  Eventually, I realized that my love for Joe and the boys outweighed any fears I had. And I said yes.

I’ll never forget what Joe said next. He said, “Jill, I promise you, your life will never change.”

Of course, this proved to be wildly untrue. Life is change. We learn and grow. We overcome heartbreaks we never could have imagined. We find wisdom, and grit, and empathy. This community knows that well – and while we’ve changed so much – made progress, there’s still so much more to do.

And, we can’t and won’t go back and refight the fights of the past.

Today, this community is under attack. Rights are being stripped away. Freedoms are eroding. More and more state laws are being passed targeting this community.

Just last night, we had to fend off more than 50 anti-gay amendments that Republicans tried to force into the government funding bill.

These were extreme measures aimed directly at this community – measures that would have limited healthcare, eroded protections for same-sex couples, and more. And they served only one purpose: to spread hate and fear.

History teaches us that democracies don’t disappear overnight.

They disappear slowly. Subtly. Silently.

A book ban. A court decision. A “don’t say gay” law.

Before World War II, I’m told, Berlin was the center of LGBTQ culture in Europe.

One group of people loses their rights. And then another, and another.

Until one morning you wake up – and you no longer live in a democracy.

Laws and attitudes can lead to devastating consequences – harm that can’t be undone, that leaves parents torn by grief. Parents and grandparents like Sue Benedict – may Nex rest in peace – and the countless others who have lost LGBTQ children to suicide, bullying, and hate. Parents who have stood by their kids, loved them, learned from them, but who will never have another tomorrow with them.

This is our chapter of history – and it’s up to us how it ends.

This isn’t the first time we have been tested. We have faced unspeakable tragedies before. An assassination in San Francisco. A barren field in Wyoming. A nightclub in Orlando.

And each time, we have persevered, we have pulled ourselves up from the depths of despair – with hope, with grace, and with love.

Our victories testify to that strength.

Thanks to President Biden, marriage equality is now the law of the land. He ended the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. He’s made it possible for trans Americans to serve openly, honorably in the military. And he’s standing firmly against conversion therapy.

There are victories in the small moments too – moments that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago: Being free to walk down the street as your authentic self. Co-workers that use your chosen name and pronouns. Communities that support you and understand you.

Yes, the MAGA extremists are seeking to erase these hard-fought gains, trying to unwind all the progress we’ve made.

They want us to be afraid.

They want to take our victories away, but we won’t let them. Your President won’t let them.  I won’t let them.

We’re going to fight. And we will win.

Today, tomorrow, and all the days after, until all people in all places can live freely, surrounded by love.

I love you.

Your President, President Biden loves you. 

Thank you for sharing this time with me.

March 24 2024 Washington DC

Source: WH.govMidtown Tribune news

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March 2024

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