Former President Bill Clinton on
Saturday congratulated gay rights activists attending the Human
Rights Campaign's (HRC) 18th annual National Dinner in
Clinton told the more than 3,000 people
gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that they have
a lot to be proud of.
“We can no longer live with being
against somebody, or a group of somebodies, just because of who they
are,” he said. “You should be happy and proud about that.
You've got a lot to celebrate. I've never seen a civil rights
movement, at least in our country, move as far and as fast as your
The progress, Clinton said, stemmed
from “changing hearts and minds.”
“One thing we have learned is no
human heart is immune to an honest outreach. No one can forever
ignore their personal experience. If you ask somebody who the most
conservative member of the Bush administration was, most people say
Dick Cheney. But Dick Cheney was for gay marriage [and] gay rights
because of his daughter, because of his personal human experience,”
Clinton said, a reference to Mary Cheney, who is openly gay.
He added, “There are still some
barriers that need to be brought down.”
“All over the world, there are young
people who still have to cower in fear of their governments, their
leaders – and sometimes their families,” Clinton said.
The room lit up when Clinton said he
loved the HRC's initials, a reference to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a
potential 2016 presidential candidate.
“The other person with those initials
once famously said as secretary of state, 'gay rights are human
rights, and human rights are gay rights,'” he said. (The video is
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Clinton, who attended HRC's first
national diner in 1997, lobbied – along with his daughter Chelsea
Clinton – for passage of a marriage equality law in New York.