on this day, with love in our hearts, we have come out, and we have
come out across America to build a bridge of understanding, a bridge
of progress, a bridge as solid as steel, a bridge to a land where no
one suffers prejudice because of their sexual orientation, their
race, their gender, their religion,
or their human difference."
I have been asked by the March organizers to speak in five minutes
about the far right, the far right which threatens the construction
of that bridge. The extreme right which has targeted everyone of you
and me for extinction. The supremacist right which seeks to redefine
the very meaning of democracy. Language itself fails in this task,
my friends, for to call our opponents "The Right," states a profound
untruth. They are wrong - they are wrong morally, they are wrong
spiritually, and they are wrong politically.
The Christian supremacists are wrong spiritually when they demonize
us. They are wrong when they reduce the complexity and beauty of our
spirit into a freak show. They are wrong spiritually, because, if we
are the untouchables of America -- if we are the untouchables --
then we are, as Mahatma Gandhi said, children of God. And as God's
children we know that the gods of our understanding, the gods of
goodness and love and righteousness, march right here with us today.
The supremacists who lead the anti-gay crusade are wrong morally.
They are wrong because justice is moral, and prejudice is evil;
because truth is moral and the lie of the closet is the real sin;
because the claim of morality is a subtle sort of subterfuge, a
stratagem which hides the real aim which is much more secular.
Christian supremacist leaders like Bill Bennett and Pat Robertson,
Lou Sheldon and Pat Buchanan, supremacists like Phyllis Schlafley,
Ralph Reid, Bill Bristol, R.J., Rushoodie -- the supremacists don't
care about morality, they care about power. They care about social
control. And their goal, my friends, is the reconstruction of
American Democracy into American Theocracy.
We who are gathered here today must prove the religious right wrong
politically and we can do it. That is our challenge. You know they
have made us into the communists of the nineties. And they say they
have declared cultural war against us. It's war all right. It's a
war about values. On one side are the values that everyone here
stands for. Do you know what those values are? Traditional American
values of democracy and pluralism. On the other side are those who
want to turn the Christian church in government, those whose value
We believe in democracy, in many voices co-existing in peace, and
people of all faiths living together in harmony under a common civil
framework known as the United States Constitution. Our opponents
believe in monotheism. One way, theirs. One god, theirs. One law,
the Old Testament. One nation supreme, the Christian Right one.
Let's name it. Democracy battles theism in Oregon, in Colorado, in
Florida, in Maine, in Arizona, in Michigan, in Ohio, in Idaho, in
Washington, in Montana, in every state where , my brothers and
sisters, are leading the fight to oppose the Right and to defend the
United States Constitution. We won the anti-gay measure in Oregon,
but today 33 counties -- 33 counties and municipalities face local
versions of that ordinance today. The fight has just begun. We lost
the big fight in Colorado, but, thanks to the hard work of all the
people of Colorado, the Boycott Colorado movement is working and we
are strong. And we are going to win our freedom there eventually.
To defeat the Right politically, my friends, is our challenge when
we leave this March. How can we do it? We've got to march from
Washington into action at home. I challenge everyone of you,
straight or gay, who can hear my voice, to join the national gay and
lesbian movement. I challenge you to join NGLTF to fight the Right.
We have got to match the power of the Christian supremacists, member
for member, vote for vote, dollar for dollar. I challenge each of
you, not just buy a T-shirt, but get involved in your movement. Get
involved! Volunteer! Volunteer! Every local organization in this
country needs you. Every clinic, every hotline, every youth program
needs you, needs your time and your love.
And I also challenge our straight liberal allies, liberals and
libertarians, independent and conservative, republican or radical. I
challenge and invite you to open your eyes and embrace us without
fear. The gay rights movement is not a party. It is not lifestyle.
It is not a hair style. It is not a fad or a fringe or a sickness.
It is not about sin or salvation. The gay rights movement is an
integral part of the American promise of freedom.
We, you and I, each of us, we are the descendants of a proud
tradition of people asserting our dignity. It is fitting that the
Holocaust Museum was dedicated the same weekend as this March, for
not only were gay people persecuted by the Nazi state, but gay
people are indebted to the struggle of the Jewish people against
bigotry and intolerance. It is fitting that the NAACP marches with
us, that feminist leaders march with us, because we are indebted to
When all of us who believe in freedom and diversity see this
gathering, we see beauty and power. When our enemies see this
gathering, they see the millennium. Perhaps the Right is right about
something. We call for the end of the world as we know it. We call
for the end of racism and sexism and bigotry as we know it. For the
end of violence and discrimination and homophobia as we know it. For
the end of sexism as we know it. We stand for freedom as we have yet
to know it, and we will not be denied.
Urvashi Vaid Speech
Gay Rights March On Washington