controversy continues, the president of the Human Rights Campaign traveled to Jena,
Louisiana to speak at a rally. His powerful and touching words
speak to the many intersections in our fight for equality:
My name is Joe Solmonese and I represent the largest
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in the country.
Am I am here — we are all here from the Human Rights Campaign —
because this injustice cannot stand.
We are here because we know about bigotry. We know about hate. We
know the pain in high school of standing apart. Of being taunted.
Of standing up, only too often, to be shut down.
I am here — we are here — because you have stood with us. Because
all of us know that one injustice against any of us is an injustice
against all of us.
And I am here because I remember. I remember James Byrd. James was
a gentle soul, a special soul. Someone who struggled his whole life
with challenges, but was filled with love and was deeply loved in
But James Byrd — at 49 — was savagely beaten, then chained to a
pickup truck and literally dragged to his death. He was brutally
murdered because he was black.
And then something really profound happened. Remember when George
Bush was governor of Texas? Well, Governor Bush had a hate crimes
bill on his desk. There was a lot of pressure to sign the bill
because of what they did to James Byrd. So, George Bush said he’d
sign that bill, but they had to take the gays out.
And here’s what happened. Stella Byrd, who has just buried her
beaten, broken, gentle James said, If some of us are left out, then
all of us are. Valuing one life and not valuing another is not
right. And the Byrd family said No. They said No. And they walked
So, I stand here today with solidarity. I stand here for social
justice. I stand here to free those young men. To say this will not
stand. It cannot stand. I stand here for the Jena 6. I stand here
today for James Byrd.
We will not forget. We will never walk away.
Thank you very much.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. An injustice to one
is an injustice to all.