Obama video message kicks off Pentagon’s LGBT Pride month event, read transcript hereTop Highlights Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
The Department of Defense hosted its first ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month Event Tuesday where keynote speaker Jeh Johnson, Department of Defense general counsel, addressed the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ including a panel discussion titled, “The value of open service and diversity.” The address was preceded by a video message by President Obama honoring activists and allies who have fought for LGBT equality.
“As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, we remember the activists and advocates who refused to be treated like second class citizens,” said President Obama. “People like Jeanne Manford and Harvey Milk who marched and protested and believed in a better future. But we also remember the unsung heroes. The millions of LGBT Americans for whom every day acts have required extraordinary courage.”
The president added, “Perfecting our union isn’t something we can do in just one month, but we can remember those who came before us. We can summon the courage to build on their legacy. And we can renew our commitment, day in and day out to being the kind of people who make change happen. ”
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, our program will begin momentarily. Please take your seats.
Ladies and gentlemen, please be advise that this event will be televised, therefore we ask that you remove your DOD badges, and please silence all electronic devices.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of Defense Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month Event. Please stand for the presentation of colors and remain standing for the National Anthem.
(Playing National Anthem)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Please direct your attention to the center screen for the president’s LGBT Pride Month video message, followed by Secretary Panetta’s Pride Month Message.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’ve often said that the true genius of America is that America can change. We can pass laws to right wrongs. We can soften hardened attitudes. Our union can be made more perfect. But here’s the thing, change never happens on its own. Change happens because ordinary people, countless unsung heroes of our American story, stand up and demand it. The story of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is no different.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, we remember the activists and advocates who refused to be treated like second class citizens. People like Jeanne Manford and Harvey Milk who marched and protested and believed in a better future. But we also remember the unsung heroes. The millions of LGBT Americans for whom every day acts have required extraordinary courage. The young people who came out as gay or transgender to their parents, not knowing what to expect. The two moms or two dad who went to an open house or PTA meeting, not knowing how they’d be received.
The couple that got married, even if their bosses or neighbors wouldn’t approve. At least not right away. Most of these heroes didn’t set out to make history, but that’s exactly what they did. Bit by bit, step by step, they bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. Now it’s our turn. So this June, let’s take some time to celebrate teachers and students who take a stand against bullying. Openly gay and lesbian service members who defend our country with honor and integrity. Families and friends who have seen their own attitudes evolve.
Perfecting our union isn’t something we can do in just one month, but we can remember those who came before us. We can summon the courage to build on their legacy. And we can renew our commitment, day in and day out to being the kind of people who make change happen.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA: As we recognize Pride Month, I want to personally thank all of our gay and lesbian service members, LGBT civilians and their families for their dedicated service to our country. Before the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage. And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself. And now after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country and be proud of who you are when in uniform.
Pursuit of equality is fundamental to the American story. The successful repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, proved to the nation that just like the country we defend, we share different backgrounds, different values, different beliefs. Together we are the greatest military force in the world. It also reminds us that integrity and respect remain the cornerstones of our military culture. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force implemented the repeal with a focus on respect and individual dignity. As Secretary of Defense, I’m very proud of how we implemented repeal.
Going forward, I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity. To ensure all who are qualified can serve in America’s military. And to give every man and woman in uniform, the opportunity to rise to their highest potential. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths. And during Pride Month and every month, let’s celebrate our rich diversity and renew our enduring commitment to equality for all.
Read the rest of the transcript here.
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