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U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a surprise appearance on Saturday night at GLAAD’s annual gala in San Francisco, where she took President Trump to task for seeking to ban transgender Americans from serving openly in the Armed Services.
In her remarks, Pelosi recounted some of the major victories that the LGBTQ community has enjoyed in recent years, as well as San Francisco’s place in the history of advancing LGBTQ rights.
“We are so proud of San Francisco, because our city is blessed with a large LGBTQ community, and a strong history of advocacy for equal rights for all,” Pelosi said. “People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re from San Francisco, it’s easy for you to be so tolerant.’ I say, ‘Tolerant?’ Tolerant is a condescending word to me. This isn’t about tolerance, this is about respect.”
Pelosi appeared at the gala to present Y Combinator President Sam Altman with the Ric Weiland Award for advancing LGBTQ equality through tech and new media.
She once again reiterated the commitment of the Democratic House Caucus to passing the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include explicit protections for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
She then shifted to criticize President Donald Trump for his recent actions marginalizing transgender Americans.
“We will also fight for equality in our military. Like so many Americans, and certainly everybody in this room, I was appalled when President Trump decided to ban transgender men and women from serving in our Armed Forces,” she said. “It’s a move that hurts and humiliates the thousands of Americans who serve in our military with strength and courage from the transgender community.
“All of us must respect that transgender Americans who have the patriotism and the bravery to serve our country in uniform must be respected,” Pelosi said. “We must fight to ensure that all Americans can live authentic lives, full of dignity, pride, and love.”
The event also honored CNN journalist Don Lemon with the Davidson/Valentini Award, which honors an out LGBTQ individual who has made a significant different in promoting LGBTQ equal rights.
In his acceptance speech, Lemon recounted the days when media refused to cover LGBTQ people, and the idea of a national on-air host being openly gay seemed to be an impossibility, as he praised other LGBTQ journalists including Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Rachel Maddow, Gio Benitez, and Thomas Roberts.
But Lemon also dedicated a segment of his speech to transgender Americans, saying: “There is work to be done. And we all know it. And for those of us who have been around for a minute, we know that we cannot go backwards.
“That’s why it is important to stand up [against] subtle and blatant homophobia, to fight for our trans brothers and sisters,” Lemon said. “Their very lives depend on it. They, too, have served and are serving, our country with distinction.”
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