Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her staunch support of the LGBT community at last night’s 21st annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C.
“Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime fighting for the vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed—and she’s not about to back down now,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement. “As we confront powerful political forces built on hate and fear, Hillary—and the majority of American voters who backed her—have continued to champion the values that truly make America great.”
Introduced by trailblazing athlete and activist Billie Jean King, who called the former presidential candidate her “shero,” Clinton began her speech by comparing the event to a family reunion. “That’s, for me, in large measure because I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from so many of you in the LGBT community over the years,” she told the crowd. “I think it’s fair to say you’ve made me a better first lady, a better senator, a better Secretary of State, a better presidential nominee, a better person.”
Clinton devoted much of her speech to criticizing the Trump administration’s many anti-LGBT actions, such as gutting funding for HIV/AIDS research, rolling back protections for transgender students, and calling to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
“It is just wrong that in 2017 you can lose your job, lose your home, or, if this administration gets its way, be denied a wedding cake simply because of who you are or who you love,” she said.
After calling out anti-LGBT Republicans here in the U.S., Clinton also addressed the persecution and detainment of LGBT people abroad in areas such as Chechnya and Cairo. “Incidents like these should really alarm every American,” she said. “And so should the fact that just a few weeks ago, the United States actually voted against a U.N. security council resolution to condemn the use of the death penalty as punishment for consensual same-sex relationships.”
“As I believe more fiercely than ever now, gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” she said. “These attacks on the LGBT community, here at home and around the world, are striking and scary.”
“I cannot pretend to understand what that feels like, but I do know what it feels like to be torn down and attacked,” Clinton continued. “And I want you to know, I’m with you. Today, tomorrow, for the long haul, I won’t be silenced and I hope you won’t be either. That’s a promise from one HRC to another.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos received the National Equality Award, and Emmy-winning Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba was presented with the HRC Ally for Equality Award. Both honors recognize “the outstanding efforts of those who publicly stand up for the LGBTQ community, committing their time and energy to improve the lives of LGBTQ people and advance equality for all Americans.”
Additional speakers included Griffin, U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris, and Gold Star father Khizr Khan.
Guests at the event, which featured a special performance by Joe Jonas and DNCE, included former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, actress Sharon Gless, Broadway actress Jenn Colella, trans activist Jazz Jennings, Orange Is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling, Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor, comedian Dana Goldberg, and DJ Young 1.
Watch Clinton’s full speech and more highlights from the HRC dinner below.