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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks by Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Pink & Purple Awards Brunch
The Mayflower Hotel
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good afternoon everyone! Buenas tardes!

Hello Task Force!!

Thank you, Rea for that wonderful introduction.

And Eliseo, muchisimas gracias por este honor, thank you for presenting me with this award.

Let me begin by congratulating the other award recipients today for their incredible work. Let's give all of them another round of applause.

It's a great honor to be here today and to be honored by the Task Force.

This organization and has a very special place in my heart.

This is a group of brilliant people who never give up and who continue to demand justice not just for the LGBT community, but for all people in this country.

But I'm going to be frank. I believe that support for the LGBT community is a no-brainer.

I've always believed that regardless of where you come from and regardless of whom you love you should be treated with respect and human dignity.

These are not special rights. These are basic human rights!

We should honor the countless gay, lesbian, and transgendered Americans who proudly make a difference every single day in this country...

We should nurture and reassure our LGBT youth who live in fear and have yet to embrace the beautiful people that they are.

We should make sure they know, it gets better.

I want you to know that we're all in this together.

I'm honored to receive this award. But I dream of a day when it is commonplace for all of us to simply respect each other for who we all are.

You are the ones who deserve a medal.

You are the ones who are out their every day in the community leading by example.

You are the ones, through your actions and activism, who are changing hearts and minds every day. I know we still have so much to do, But as I prepared to come here today, I reflected on the progress we have made.

Attacks on LGBT people are now treated for what they are: Hate Crimes — and we as a national community say no

We've expanded federal health benefits for same-sex couples...

We've launched the first National HIV/AIDS strategy in our nation's history!

The President continues to appoint members of this community to positions at every level.

At my agency alone, we have dozens of openly LGBT staff, some of whom fill very senior positions and some whom are here with us today...

People like my Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Kathy Martinez who is here today, where are you Kathy?!

These folks don't only inspire me everyday; they inspire the many policies and initiatives that we've put in place at the Labor Department on behalf of the LGBT community — whether that's gathering better data about LGBT workers and families, or including LGBT families in FMLA coverage — or our own EEO policy at DOL.

Team DOL please stand!

Let me clear — I have a self interest in this — I want the best and brightest at DOL — that means no-discrimination — we want everyone's talent devoted to serving workers and getting our economy back on track!

Or people on my team like Tony Rios who couldn't be here today. Tony was discharged from the military under "don't ask, don't tell" and is now still serving his country as a Deputy Director in my Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.

Tony is a powerful reminder of another victory, because thanks to President Obama, and leaders like you, LGBT folks can once and for all serve in our armed forces openly and with integrity!

I'm honored to work for a President who cares about the struggle for social justice in America. So while we still have a long way to go, lets remember how far we've come.

And Ray, let me thank you for the advocacy and expertise the Task Force provides — we will continue to work together — later this month your team will brief senior DOL staff on issues facing the Trans community — we welcome that help from you and partnership with you.

And I want to thank the Task Force for your voice on a broad range of social issues to demand equality and opportunity for all! You stand tall for workers rights and for racial justice and economic justice.

We all remember that on the same day the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" passed, the DREAM Act was defeated.

You in this room know that immigration issue is an LGBT issue, too!

I know it is a priority for the Task Force and I know you worked hard to help us get the DREAM Act passed.

We were so close last year, but rest assured, this battle is far from over.

We need the Dream Act and we need immigration reform. We need to continue to work together for justice for ALL people.

I'm fired up! Are you?!

You better be!

We've come so far... And we have so much more to do... Justice isn't won in a day, or a month... It is the work of our lifetimes

So for everyone here, for our allies, and for every lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered person out there.

I'll leave you three little words that inspired one of the greatest social movements in our history and that continue to inspire me everyday:

Si Se Puede! Yes We Can, Task Force!

Thank you again for this award! God bless you! And have a wonderful day!