The Human Rights Campaign held its annual National Dinner Saturday night in Washington, DC, and many prominent speakers were on hand to champion the progress of LGBT equality and reinforce hope for the journey forward.
Actress Sally Field accepted HRC’s Ally for Equality Award, and after her gay son Sam Greisman introduced her, she spoke to the importance of family acceptance:
FIELD: There are so many children who struggle to understand and embrace their sexuality, and families who do not welcome them — with parents who somehow find it acceptable to shut them out of their hearts and their homes. And that I find unacceptable. There comes a time when parents must listen and learn from these people they brought into the world, their children, and these children have something important to teach their parents. I urge them to listen.
HRC’s National Equality Award went to the NAACP, a prominent civil rights organization that endorsed marriage equality. The group’s president, Ben Jealous, emphasized the importance of turning “liberty and justice for all” into a reality:
JEALOUS: As an American people, we celebrate the many times that our nation has led this world away from hate and ever toward hope. In this precipitous moment, when we as a movement are on the brink of massive change and tremendous progress…let us stand up for marriage equality from coast-to-coast and border-to-border!
Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker was the dinner’s headline speaker, and he spoke passionately about the future of civil rights:
BOOKER: I get in weird conversations with my friends. “Why you always talking about gay rights”‘ I said, “I’m not talking about gay rights. I’m talking about human rights. I’m talking about my rights. I’m talking about your rights.” When people were fighting to expand the promise of this country, it took everybody involved, ’cause we knew we were all in it together. That deep and real African proverb was clearly true in our history that says, “If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together.” And so now, it’s time we go together.
Also on hand were playwright Dustin Lance Black and actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who sang a special song he “learned from Johnny Cash.” Watch videos of all the speeches: