A straight friend emailed me this a few days ago and I'm just reading it now. It's the remarks Barbara Streisand said when they gave her the Humanitarian Award, March 6, 2004. To be honest I never have been a big fan of Barbara. But after reading this I have a new found respect for her.
Remarks by Barbara Streisand upon her receipt of The Human Rights Campaign
Humanitarian Award, March 6, 2004 © Barbara Streisand 2004
I have been fortunate to receive a few awards in my
lifetime, and I always appreciate them, but I must
say that this is a very special one because the gay
community has supported me from the very beginning.
I know that this is a challenging moment in your
history. So I am very proud to accept this award
from the Human Rights Campaign at this time. You are
on the front lines in the struggle for equal rights,
even as continued prejudice stands in the way.
The American Constitution is a magical document that
has evolved over 200 plus years. While we revere it,
it did not start out as a perfect document. This
Republic was founded with a Constitution that
counted slaves as three-fifths human. It took
decades and a Civil War, the deadliest in U.S.
history, to erase that stain upon our country. It
took over 100 years to bring women into the
political system by giving them the right to vote.
Interracial marriage was illegal in some states
until 1967. Now the Bush Administration wants to
change the positive inclusive direction of our
Constitution by calling for an amendment that
authorizes discrimination on the basis of sexual
Well, I say, no way. Dr. Martin Luther King taught
us that the arc of history is long, but it bends
towards justice. We must always go forward, towards
greater liberty and greater equality, not backward.
You know, for me, the realization that two people
should have the right to form a sacred union
regardless of their gender was strengthened when I
saw a performance of the play The Normal Heart in
1985. After feeling the love those two men had for
each other, I dare anybody not to want them to get
married by the end.
The law cannot dictate matters of the heart. When
two people form a deep bond, there is usually a soul
connection, and the soul has no gender. Life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental
rights in this country. Happiness can be many things
- a good meal, a good friend, a warm puppy, and
certainly...love. How can anyone legislate who you
can love? That is a human right, the right to love
and be loved.
And when you love someone, whether you're in a
heterosexual or same-gender relationship, shouldn't
you be able to visit them in the hospital when
they're sick or dying? Shouldn't everyone have the
right to enter into a loving, legally binding,
committed relationship that takes on special
responsibilities and obligations?
Current civil union legislation doesn't go far
enough in protecting equal rights. We must not deny
gay families many of the benefits that help keep
families strong...social security, pensions,
veteran's support, inheritance, the right to take
unpaid leave to care for a spouse...the list goes on
Instead of helping families, this president wants to
spend a billion and a half dollars to bolster
marriage. Turning government into a marriage
counselor is a joke...a waste of time and money.
It's not a policy; it's a diversion.
But this administration regularly uses the politics
of diversion to their advantage. They cleverly use
divisive cultural issues to avoid talking about
other serious problems, such as unemployment and
healthcare. They go after Saddam because they can't
find bin Ladin ... They want to send missions to
Mars instead of protecting the Earth... Tax cuts for
the wealthy instead of assisting the poor...
You have to look at what Bush does, not what he
says. Talk is cheap. He expresses empathy for
military families and then cuts their benefits...He
names a proposal "The Clear Skies Initiative" that
pollutes the planet...He says he'll be a uniter and
then drives us apart...He steals the slogan "No
Child Left Behind" and then breaks his promise to
fund his reforms.
Truly, I stand here flabbergasted at what is going
on in today's world. Never in my life have I
witnessed a president and an administration that is
so out of step with the needs of the country, so
threatening to our future and so abusive in its use
The Clinton administration left this country with a
budget surplus, and also a surplus in the goodwill
we shared with our allies. Now we have a deficit in
Before the war in Iraq, I went to hear Scott Ritter
speak - he had been a weapons inspector for seven
years. He told us there was no imminent threat to
the United States, that the program to develop
nuclear weapons had been dormant since 1998. There
was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda (one is
a secular society and the other fundamentalist),
that chemical weapons have a short shelf life and
wouldn't be usable today...in short, everything
Scott Ritter told us has turned out to be the truth.
But this president (the only one to cut taxes during
a war) made terrorism a partisan cause. He charged
Democrats with being soft on terror, a lie. He
appointed John Ashcroft to trample our civil
liberties as Attorney General, and, from a human
rights point of view, his use of Guantanamo Bay has
roused international protest.
Now as the president gears up for his reelection
campaign, the right wing propaganda machine is ready
to take the skin off of John Kerry, the Democratic
Party's nominee. I've never seen anything as
ruthless or as relentless as this. They can take a
slur hatched at the Republican National Committee or
a lie huckstered by the Heritage Foundation, repeat
it on Fox, hit it on Limbaugh, print it in the Wall
Street Journal, until it's coming out of every media
outlet imaginable. Repeating lies over and over
doesn't make them any more true. But it does make
people believe the lies a little more until finally
they stop demanding the truth.
I've seen their ferocity up close, as I witnessed
the astounding assault on the CBS movie about Ronald
Reagan, in which my husband starred and Craig and
Neil produced. They attacked that movie and drove it
off network television before any of them had ever
The Right Wing is very well-organized. They fight
dirty. They project their own nastiness onto their
opposition. Remember how they accused the Democrats
of stealing the election in Florida, while they
themselves were doing just that!
We're now in a period that whenever you say
something that's critical of the government, you are
accused of being unpatriotic. Bush even lent himself
to an utterly despicable campaign in Georgia that
impugned the patriotism of Senator Max Cleland, who
had sacrificed three limbs in the same Vietnam War
that the president ducked. Talking about patriotism,
let's never forget Bush's fellow Republican, Teddy
Roosevelt, who in 1918 said, "To announce that there
must be no criticism of the president, or that we
are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not
only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally
treasonable to the American public."
Indeed, this country now faces a fundamental choice.
Multilateral security or preemptive wars. Closing
or widening the gaps between the haves and the have
nots. Facing the truth or accepting the lies. The
public taking an interest or tuning out. Extending
our rights or turning them back.
Mr. Bush will dress himself up as a compassionate
conservative once more for the election, but he has
embraced a remarkably radical policy, which I pray
the public finally sees. The mishandling of national
and economic security. The shameless politics of
special interests and crony capitalists. (And when
you talk about special interests it's important to
differentiate between public interests that benefit
the larger good of the people, like protecting the
environment or finding a cure for cancer, versus the
special interests that are limited to a particular
industry or corporation, like Enron or Halliburton).
Bush recently pushed through a prescription drug
bill that actually gives a better deal to the drug
companies than to the seniors who need the drugs.
And what about the new energy plan that actually
increases our dependence on Persian Gulf oil (even
though he recently said just the opposite in his
State of the Union speech).
The Republicans will try to win the election by
convincing the American public that they are the
father figures who can keep us safe. But the facts
contradict the myth. Two and a half years after the
largest attack on American soil, our borders remain
easily penetrable. We have the capacity to inspect
only 2% of cargo containers coming into our country.
Local law enforcement has been weakened by spending
cuts, and our intelligence lacks manpower and
updated technology. And which party's budget
provides the most for homeland security? The
This president is so transparent. The only way he
would agree to investigations of the mishandling of
intelligence leading up to the Iraqi war, is if we
wait until after the election to get the reports.
Has this administration no shame? What job are we
not doing that has allowed them to pull the wool
over the eyes of the American people?
But...there is hope. It's starting to turn. I can
feel it. The media is finally asking the president
and his staff the tougher questions, and looking
into the issues that should have been investigated
years ago. The people are speaking out at all levels
from the grassroots to Washington. All of the good
work so many people are doing is finally making a
dent. We won't be scared into submission.
What should scare us is that we have no checks and
balances on this administration. They control the
White House, the Senate, the House of
Representatives and the Supreme Court. All we have
is each other. So each of us must do what we can to
create positive change in November. I know the Human
Rights Campaign will be at the center of the
struggle for equality. And let's be smart...Let's be
pragmatic...Let's not allow the Republicans to use
gay marriage as a political tool in this election
year. Truth and justice eventually wins out.
I am proud to stand with you tonight as the
recipient of this prestigious award. Together we can
and we will win the fight.