Thursday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) presented Washington United for Marriage with the “Champion of Justice” award during the Alliance for Justice’s “Justice First!” luncheon in Washington, D.C. Accepting on behalf of Washington United for Marriage was Amy White, former Chair of the Coordinating Committee. Senator Murray was introduced by Stanford University Law School Professor Pamela Karlan, co-counsel for Edith Windsor, whose challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act was heard by the Supreme Court in March.
“Washington United for Marriage was on the front lines, right up until the final ballot was counted, to make equality a certainty for all those around our state. And now, the state I love is one step closer to ensuring we are not discriminating against anyone because of who they love,” said Murray. “They are proof of the incredible power that a community can have when we come together to fight for equality.”
Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to a fair, just and free society. The luncheon was attended by over 600 public officials, progressive leaders, lawyers, public interest advocates, and activists to celebrate successes, network, and inspire and grow the movement for social change.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Mainers United for Marriage and Minnesotans United were also honored.
The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:
“Good afternoon! Thank you, Pam, for that kind introduction.
“Wow, what a crowd! There is a lot of energy in here today — and there should be. So many of you were involved in some amazing victories this year. So congrats to you all – for your tireless work for equality on behalf of millions of Americans.
“You know, when former Washington Governor Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law last year, it was a day of joy for all of the loving, committed gay and lesbian couples of my home state – and for all of us who respect and support them.
“Unfortunately, there were those who felt the need to try and turn back the clock and roll back the gains we made. But thankfully, there was an impressive coalition of organizations, unions, congregations and businesses in our state – who were determined to work just as hard, if not harder, to defend our victory and pass Referendum74.
“Washington United for Marriage was on the front lines, right up until the final ballot was counted, to make equality a certainty for all those around our state.
“And since we’re standing here today, I think you know how that turned out! And now, the state I love is one step closer to ensuring we are not discriminating against anyone because of who they love.
“It was a moment for our state to show why we are looked upon as a national model for being inclusive, for being accepting, and for embracing what makes us alike, and what makes us different,
“But most importantly, it was a moment to reaffirm the fundamental right that we all have – from Seattle to Spokane and all across our great nation – to live and love freely, fairly, and equally!
“I’m here because in Washington state, when we see discrimination, we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder to defeat it. And I’m here because of the astounding work done by Washington United for Marriage.
“But their fight did not end there. And I know it does not end for anyone here today. Because the tide is turning. And because the LGBT and allied communities are so committed to achieving equality, it’s turning rapidly.
“But as you know, there is so much more to do. That’s why right now in Congress I’m working to end DOMA once and for all. It’s why I’m working on tough new measures to combat bullying and harassment in our schools. And it’s why I have called on Secretary Shinseki to allow LGBT veterans and their spouses to be buried in national cemeteries without delay.
“And it’s why I’m working to change outdated policies that say LGBT couples have to face a paperwork nightmare to be able to file their taxes jointly.
“I’m working with many of you on these issues of equality and fairness. But perhaps nothing I do will be as important and as meaningful – as when I joined with Washington United for Marriage to mark yes on my ballot on R74.
“So I’d like to thank Washington United for Marriage for all for their passion, for welcoming me to join them in their struggle, and for having the courage to stand up for what’s right. They showed the nation once again that we can change the course of history and give true voice and meaning to the idea that all are created equal.
“They are proof of the incredible power that a community can have when we come together to fight for equality. I am proud to represent one of twelve states, and the District of Columbia, that have affirmed the right for LGBT couples to marry—an amazing sign of progress in our nation. And I am proud to continue the fight in the United States Senate!
“So with that, I’d like to introduce Amy White, former Chair of the Coordinating Committee for Washington United for Marriage, who will be accepting the ‘Champion of Justice’ award on their behalf.”