2015 Christopher Street Day Parade

June 27, 2015
Ambassador John B. Emerson

This is the fifth year that the U.S. Embassy has participated in the Christopher Street Day Parade. My colleagues and I are very happy to be back.

I have long said that the last, great civil rights challenge is achieving equality and non-discrimination of our LGBT community.  This struggle is something I have been involved in since the early 1980s.  As Secretary of State John Kerry says, defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is “the heart and conscience of our diplomacy.”

Change is happening because people stood up and marched and showed solidarity.  We have come a long way in the 46 years since Stonewall.

Ultimately, the battle for full human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons will be won not only in the hearts and minds of people, but also on the floor of the U.S. Congress, the Bundestag, or the UN General Assembly – and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court just announced an historic decision regarding same-sex marriages.  This is not only a moment of celebration for the LGBT community, but also a significant event for all Americans.  Marriage equality is about our civil rights, and our firm belief that every citizen should be treated equally under the law.

Sexual orientation and gender identity, like any other human trait, can take different forms.  And fundamental human rights are just that – fundamental.  We are all different. We are all equal.  Or to quote the theme of this year’s parade, “Wir sind alle anders. Wir sind alle gleich.”

Thank you, and have a happy and proud parade!