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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, First Lady McCray Deliver Remarks at the LGBT Pride Reception

June 23, 2017

First Lady Chirlane McCray: Hello, everybody. Welcome to Gracie Mansion. This is the people’s house. This is your house. And you are always welcome here. Now, this is a party. We’ve got DJ Mary Mack in the house – please show her some love. No city in the world celebrates pride like New York City. And no city is as welcoming of all people as New York City. 

For so many of us, this was the first place we ever felt truly at home, am I right? That’s what makes our city, New York City, so special. Whether you’re staying at Marcia’s house in the Bronx, living in a Brooklyn residence for our LGBT elders, at a [inaudible] in Harlem, partying on the ferry, or marching at the Queens Pride Parade –

[Cheers]

Queens is in the house. No matter where you are, there’s a place for you in New York City, and that’s why New York City is a beacon for the country and for the world. But that doesn’t mean we’re done fighting. Are we done fighting?

Audience: No!

First Lady McCray: Together we stood against bathroom bigotry. But we have more to do to protect our trans brothers and sisters. We opened up beds for LGBTQ teens and young adults in need of a safe place to stay, but we have to do more to keep our young people off the streets. We created 1-888-NYC-WELL for those who are struggling with mental health challenges. Can you say that number with me? 1-888-NYC-WELL.

Audience: 1-888-NYC-WELL!

First Lady McCray: Good. But we still have more to do to meet the mental health needs of all LGBTQ New Yorkers. We have a lot of work to do. And Bill and I will never stop fighting for equality and dignity for all. 

Will you fight with us?

Audience: Yes!

First Lady McCray: I know you will. And I’m honored to fight right alongside you. And now, I have the pleasure of introducing my partner in life and love, my Pride-marching buddy, your mayor, Bill de Blasio. 

[Applause] 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Happy Pride, everyone. 

[Cheers]

I can't hear you – happy Pride, everyone. 

[Cheers]

Much better. Excellent – rowdy crowd tonight. We are here to celebrate. We are here to celebrate extraordinary achievements and extraordinary community. Now, my brothers and sisters, I want to say at the outset, a lot of people here under this tent out on this lawn have fought for the right to this community for not just years, but for decades. Let's applaud all of them. A lot of people stood up when it was not easy at all, and we thank them, including Chirlane McCray. Thank You, First Lady. My wife is always ahead of the curve 

Okay, there is a lot we'll be talking about and celebrating tonight. I have to say at the outset, while we're here to appreciate each other to appreciate the community, to appreciate the progress we made this is a tough day in our nation’s capital because so many in this community fought for equal access to health care, so many people in this community stood up and said if you’re not given the right to health care you are not being treated as a full member of our city or nation. And it is bitterly ironic that on the day we gather there is a concerted effort that has begun this very day to take away health care for millions and millions of Americans

[Applause]

But my friends, in a democracy we don’t take it lying down, do we? We fight back, don't we? So, we're going to get on with the celebration, but I ask everyone reach out all over this country – reach out to all your friends and colleagues and family all over this country with a simple message – tell your United States Senator not to take away health care from the people of this country.

So, with that important note, I want to go back to the matter at hand, which is the greatness of this community and the greatness of the progress we've made. Now, I need you first to join me in welcoming a number of people right behind me who are here to celebrate. A lot of important people in this town wanted to be here to celebrate with us, so I'm going to read them off and you can just applaud for all of them.

First of all, our wonderful Chair of the Human Rights Commission Carmelyn Malalis; our Probation Commissioner Ana Bermudez; our TLC commissioner Meera Joshi; Commissioner for the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence Cecile Noel; our Citywide Events Commissioner Michael Paul Carey, the man who runs Gracie Mansion and makes it open everyone; Executive Director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy Paul Gunther; our Special Events Director – and she and her team put on these wonderful events – Carla Matero; Community Affairs Commissioner Marco Carrion; Chief of Staff to the First Lady Roxanne John; the President the Housing Development Corporation Eric Enderlin; and its share of the Board of Standards and Appeals Margery Perlmutter – elected officials who stand up for the community every day.

We have one who's a former elected, but he deserves special attention and special praise – former Senator, former Councilman Tom Duane is here; Assemblymember Louis Sepulveda; Councilmember Danny Dromm; Councilmember Cory Johnson; Councilmember Jimmy Vacca

I want a special and thunderous applause for the men and women in blue, the members of the Gay Officers Action League, who are here. I've been handed a note – we are joined by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell; the permanent representative of Argentina for the United Nations Martin Garcia – even Argentina is celebrating with a big event; and you all experienced the greatness of DJ Mary Mack. Let's thank her. I'm sorry I said DJ Mary Mack – louder please. 

So, listen, I'm going to bring up a special guest in a moment, but first let's just [inaudible] my friends. Less than 50 years ago – less than 50 years ago there was no gay rights movement in this country. At Stonewall, something began and the progress and the action and the movement and the change that has been achieved is breathtaking. And everyone here deserves credit for their role in bringing about this change, what it meant in this city, unlike other states I could mention. Here we have an equal access bathroom law and we are proud of that fact. We have focused on making affordable housing available to people with HIV and AIDS, and we have changed the rent [inaudible]. We are proud to have the City's first Commission on Gender Equity because we know we need it so this city is a place where we are willing to say out loud – we're willing to say that we have not made enough change yet, we've made a lot but we have more to do because any time there is a hate crime or hate speech we have more to do, don't we? Anytime there is discrimination, we have more to do. We have to live up to the highest ideals of the city. 

Chirlane said earlier, so many people who come from here or came to here found their peace here, found their tranquility here, found their identity here, found the ability to be who they are because that's what New York City honors – everyone. We honor every kind of person. We respect every kind of person. It does not matter where you come from, you are part of this city, you are part of what makes this city great. It doesn't matter what faith you are. It does not matter who you love. You are New York. You are a part of what makes this city great and that is something we have to spread all over this country, don't we my friends? Well, we have the largest LGBT community in the entire United States of America and we are proud. We are proud and we are a city that's great and we want to show people that our strength is our respect for all. 

Now, we also in New York – I’ve got to say one more thing – in New York, the most talented, the most interesting, the most innovative people come to New York City, isn't that right? There's nothing quite like being a native New Yorker – that is the highest form of humanity – but the people who come here are really, really cool, okay? The best talent in the world comes here and, we could say particularly when it comes to the arts and drama, the very best talent in the world comes here, don't you agree? They come from every corner of the world. They come from every state in the country, including some very special talent that comes from the state of Alabama. There is someone who comes from the state of Alabama, who is here, and she is now a New Yorker. And I got to tell you, Alabama's loss was New York City’s gain. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to bring to the stage the trailblazer, a star an innovator, a change agent ladies and gentlemen Laverne Cox.

I want to make an official statement. Sorry, Alabama, she’s ours now. Laverne has spent a lifetime – a lifetime my friends breaking down barriers. This is someone – you're a great artist, you’re a great performer – but I have to tell you, I want to tell you [inaudible] because you have changed people's lives for the better. You broken down barriers and they were not easy to break down, were they? This was not an easy journey. This was not an easy mission that Laverne took on, but what she has achieved – the first transgender woman to star in a major TV role in the history of the United States of America. And as long one – you know, one of the American standards is the cover of Time magazine – the first transgender person to ever appear on the cover of Time magazine. And Laverne is a great actor, but Laverne in my humble opinion is even greater activist, illuminating the struggle, illuminating the lives of people, including through her documentary work and helping change lives. 

And so my friends, we have a special honor for Laverne. I want to get the proclamation here. Will you kindly hold it before the people? This official proclamation representing 8.5 million New Yorkers – it talks about all the great and amazing things Laverne has done. But the last part is our honor, Laverne, and the last part says, I, Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City do hereby declare Thursday June 22nd 2017, in the city of New York as Laverne Cox day.

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