Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, credited the nonprofit Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth with being “part of a national movement for justice” while the group honored her efforts fighting for gay rights during its 20th anniversary gala Friday evening.
She said the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, “will be left in the dustbin of history,” predicting that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn it after hearing arguments in March.
“There’s no time to waste, there’s much work to be done,” Pelosi said at Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park. “All of our caucus is very committed to the GLBT agenda.”
She also evoked the memory of Harvey Milk, a Bay Shore native who became the nation’s first openly gay politician when he was elected in San Francisco, a leading city in the modern gay rights movement where Pelosi’s district office is located.
Also honored were Edie Windsor, who brought the lawsuit challenging DOMA to the Supreme Court, and Andrew Stern, the chief operating officer of NARAL Pro-Choice NY.
“This organization matters to me,” Stern said, choking up at times. ”It matters a lot to me.”
He recalled being called names, shoved in lockers and having his sweater lit on fire at alma mater, Plainedge High School, whose gay-straight alliance also presented him with an award.
He called it the best award and most meaningful recognition he’s ever received and accepted it on behalf of his parents. “This means the world to me,” he said.
David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of LIGALY, reflected upon how far his group has come in the past two decades while announcing that it will be opening its third center, the “GLBT center of the Hamptons,” this summer.
“It was indeed a different time in 1993,” he said, recalling the fear among LI’s gay and lesbian youth then to even gather the courage to ask him where GLBT could come together when he’d visit local schools to raise awareness about LIGALY. ”Twenty years later it is certainly a different time.”
“GLBT centers save lives,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart,” he told the crowd, pausing for a moment to collect himself, “thank you, thank you, thank you.”