WATCH THIS VIDEO — This nation has always been rabid with great orators. Americans just elected one of these talents to the presidency. And now, it’s time to bring out the microphones for the rest.. The Human Rights Campaign on Saturday threw a gala awards dinner (photos here), welcoming celebrity star power like Wanda Sykes and Neil Patrick Harris. But one man stood out from the rest. Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, put into words the type of inspirational sentiment and coming-togetherness between gays, blacks, and humanity that we all feel. Says Bond, a gay marriage supporter: “Black people, of all people, should not oppose equality, and that is what gay marriage is. … At the NAACP, we pledge to do our part.” And that’s just the beginning of this eloquent indictment of homophobia.
• “God seems to have made room in his plan for interracial marriage, and he or she will no doubt do the same for same-sex marriage.”
• “When someone asks me, ‘Are gay rights civil rights?’ My answer is always, ‘Of course they are.’ Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives. The right to equal treatment before the law. These are the rights shared by everyone. There is no one in the United States who does not or should not enjoy or share in enjoying these rights. Gay and lesbian rights are not special rights in any way. It isn’t special to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary universal entitlement of citizenship.”
• “The fact that many had to struggle to gain these rights makes them precious; it does not make them special and it does not reserve them only for me or restrict them from others. Because when others gain these rights, my rights are not diminished in any way. My rights are not diluted when my neighbor enjoys protection from discrimination. He or she becomes my ally in defending the rights we all share. For some people, comparisons between the African-American civil rights movement, the movement for gay and lesbians rights seems to diminish the long black historical struggle with its suffering, sacrifices, and endless toil. However people of color ought to be flattered that our movement has provided so much inspiration for others. That our movement has been so widely imitated. That our tactics, our methods, our heroes, our heroines, and even our songs have been appropriated or served as models for others.”
• And in a special message geared toward certain individuals: “Many gays and lesbians worked side-by-side with me in the 1960s civil rights movement. Am I now to tell them, Thanks for risking life and limb helping me win my rights, but they’re excluded because of a condition of their birth, that they can’t share now in the victories they helped me to win, that having accepted and embraced them as partners in a common struggle I can now turn my back on them, deny them the rights they helped me win, the rights I enjoy because of them? Not a chance. No.”
• “You know President Bush, you remember him? He said marriage is the most fundamental institution of our civilization. Is that precisely why we should support, not oppose gay marriage? We’ve amended the U.S. Constitution only 17 times since the adoption of the Bill of Rights. Aside from prohibition, which was quickly acknowledged to be a mistake and repealed, we’ve amended the Constitution only to expand and protect people’s rights, never to restrict them, never to take them away.”
• “Rampant homophobia’s not just wrong. It’s dangerous to our national security.”
• “We’re all okay. And someday, marriage for all of us, will be okay too.”