Rep.Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's remarks as she receives the
Log Cabin Republican's Spirt of Lincoln Award.
September 20, 2011
It is an honor to be here at the 2011 Spirit of Lincoln Awards reception.
I also want to congratulate Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Clark Cooper and Deputy Executive Director Christian Berle for putting together this wonderful event.
Over the years, we have made important steps in securing equal rights for all Americans.
As a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, I have worked to extend equal rights to the LGBT community and eliminate hate-motivated crimes.
However, I know that without each and every one of you my voice would be lost in the background.
As a result of your tireless work, we have won great victories in the last few years such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and New York’s passage of marriage equality.
For too many years, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” made many of our brave men and women hide who they are.
Many went from one day to the next always worried whether they were going to be discharged.
No one who wants to serve in our armed forces should be turned away due to sexual orientation.
This summer, New York’s state legislature recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry.
This historic event was also a triumph for limited government.
As Republicans, we are committed to ensure that the federal governments play its proper role.
Defining marriage is not part of that role.
We are here tonight for equality and self worth.
All of us know that LGBT equality is not about creating “special rights;”
It is about ensuring the individual rights we all share as we fight for equality and justice.
As Republicans, we believe that our individual rights are not granted by our government.
They are our birth-right.
We also believe individuals should be judged on their merits and accomplishments and not by their race, religion or sexual orientation.
That is why the work Log Cabin Republicans does is so important.
You are able to show that conservative principles dovetail perfectly into issues of freedom and equality.
Those of the very issues the LGBT community has been fighting for and will continue to fight for.
With your help our country will continue its journey towards that “more perfect union” and give every individual, in the words of President Lincoln, “an unfettered start in the race of life.”