Press

Legacy Of Fairness And Equality

Date: 
September 15, 1997

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, (NGLTF) tonight honored Coretta Scott King for her commitment to civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. NGLTF's Honoring Our Allies award is annually presented to individuals and organizations who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

"Mrs. King has stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we work to envision and create a world based on social justice. She embraces the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people as part of the continued legacy of Dr. King's brave work," said Kerry Lobel, executive director of NGLTF. "Her progressive vision of peace and justice echoes around the world."

In her acceptance remarks Mrs. King said, "I accept this award as a reaffirmation of my commitment to carry forward the unfinished work of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. My husband understood that all forms of discrimination and persecution were unjust and unacceptable for a great democracy. He believed that none of us could be free until all of us were free, that a person of conscience had no alternative but to defend the human rights of all people." She continued, "I want to reaffirm my determination to secure the fullest protection of the law for all working people, regardless of their sexual orientation...it is right, just, and good for America."

Mrs. King also acknowledged the contributions gay men and lesbians have historically made to the civil rights movement. "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I will always remember and honor their contributions," she said. "It has been encouraging to see the growing participation of people of color in the leadership ranks of the lesbian and gay freedom struggle, and I urge you to continue making this movement a model of diversity."

Remarking on the criticism she receives for speaking out against discrimination based on sexual orientation, Mrs. King said, "I still hear from people who claim to be followers of Martin Luther King, Jr., but who think I should be silent about the human rights concerns of gays and lesbians. All I can do is tell these folks that the civil rights movement that I believe in thrives on unity and inclusion, not division and exclusion." She continued, "All of us who oppose discrimination and support equal rights should stand together to resist every attempt to restrict civil rights in this country."

"The Right continues its attempts to pit people of color against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community,Ó Lobel said. "As we witnessed tonight, efforts to drive a wedge between us do not work. We stand united in our efforts to move forward a progressive agenda based on our shared values of justice, fairness and inclusion."

Coretta Scott King is the Founder and former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. The King Center is a living memorial to what the human rights movement accomplished under his leadership. Mrs. King has been a supporter of human rights, a progressive activist and an ally of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people for over 40 years.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.