Transcript: Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Mccray Deliver Remarks at 2015 LGBT Pride Month Reception, Announce Establishment of Commission on Gender Equity

June 24, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Happy Pride, everyone.

[Applause]

Now, brothers and sisters, if you believe in human rights, you should be very happy to know that Carmelyn Malalis is the chair of the Human Rights Commission.

[Applause]

Because you can hear the fire and the energy in her voice, and that’s the kind of person we want defending our rights, now isn’t it?

[Applause]

So, let’s thank Carmelyn Malalis for her leadership for this city.

[Applause]

Now, I want to talk about this evening, and what it means, what we are celebrating, and what we are fighting for. But it’s also a very, very good thing that so many people – not only so many of you wanted to be here, but so many leaders of this administration, and this city wanted to here tonight and be a part of this. So, I’m going to take just a quick moment to thank them. I’m going to say them all then you can clap – rolling thunder clapping – our Deputy Mayor Richard Buery; my counsel, Maya Wiley; my senior advisor, Gabrielle Fialkoff; our community affairs commissioner, Marco Carrion; our international affairs commissioner, Penny Abeywardena; our immigrant affairs commissioner, Nisha Agrawal; commissioner for the Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Rose Pierre-Louis; Commissioner of Records and Information Services Pauline Toole; our chief technology officer, Minerva Tantoco; and our director of appointments, Rachel Lauter. We thank them all for serving at this administration. And from the New York City Council – a great progressive, and a great voice, not just for the LGBT community, but for all communities, Corey Johnson, thank you.

[Applause]

I love this celebration because this is a celebration of not just the fight for equality and inclusion, but so many victories for equality and inclusion. So many people in this room have participated for years in changing this city to be a place where all people are respected. And our fights in this city have reverberated all across the country. There is so much to celebrate tonight. Pride is something we carry with us every day. It’s a reminder – yes, there is much to do, but some of the pride needs to be for the victories won because they are many. So let’s just have a round of applause for all the people who fought and won for the cause of equality. The LGBT community has shown this city time and again what it means to truly believe in inclusion, to truly connect with that New York value of being a place for everyone. Sometimes – sometimes that value was spoken but not acted upon. Sometimes it was selective when it should have been for all. This community stood up time and time again, and made New York what it was supposed to be – truly open to all. And I have to tell you, the energy is unabated. Every pride event I go to I can feel not only those who have been there for years and years as part of a good struggle, who are celebrating a lot and continuing that struggle. A new generation has come along inspired to keep fighting for that more perfect union. I’ve seen it in this room tonight, but I’ve also seen it – Chirlane and I have been out around the city just the last few days. We had the great joy of being at the Queens Pride Parade. Now, I have to tell you – anyone here from Queens?

[Applause]

Alright. Last year, I was the first mayor ever to march in the Queens Pride Parade. This year, I was the first mayor to be the grand marshall of the Queens Pride Parade.

[Applause]

I am coming up in the world, okay.

[Laughter]

We also, just days ago, were in our homeland of Brooklyn, and marched in the Brooklyn Pride parade.

[Applause]

Not far from here – and that parade brings out everything beautiful about the community that we come from. A community that truly will not allow people to be excluded. And we are proud – we are proud of Brooklyn. And then, I think I can say this without contradiction – the mother of all parades coming up this weekend – one of the great moments each year in this city – not only one of the great celebrations, one of the great expressions of everything wonderful about New York, but one of the most beautiful moments of solidarity for all New Yorkers. And we will be there this weekend with you. You heard from Carmelyn, I got to tell you the vote to landmark Stonewall Inn has meant so much to so many of us because it’s a reminder of victory won. You know, they say the victors write the history. This is a good case of that phrase. A victory won that will now be preserved, and that we will show people all over the world as a reminder of how noble and right it is to fight for human rights.

And we have this year – we have this year not only the hope – the hope – that the Supreme Court will do the right thing – and I’m going to be hopeful, brothers and sisters.

[Applause]

The Supreme Court’s batting average hasn’t been so good lately, but I am going to be hopeful that the evident truth of equality will win the day. But I don’t think it’s bad at all – in fact, I think it might seep in the minds of the Justices that, for the first time in the history of the world, when a nation got to vote on marriage equality, the Republic of Ireland overwhelmingly decided that there should be equality in that nation.

[Applause]

So, all we ask of the Supreme Court is, be as good as the people of Ireland, and everything’s going to work out fine.

[Laughter]

In our administration, we know the fight for equality, the fight for inclusion has to happen every day. We are so proud that last year we finally – finally – addressed the need for affordable housing for people with HIV and AIDS. We finally addressed the rent cap the right way.

[Applause]

We are so proud that we have launched the nation’s largest HIV testing initiative, because we need to keep reaching people who need help.

And today, I’m very proud to announce something groundbreaking today that will have long-term ramifications. Earlier today, I signed an executive order to officially create New York City’s first Commission on Gender Equity.

[Applause]

And brothers and sisters, we have seen – we have seen too many times the lip service on gender equity. We have seen too many times the mission go incomplete. This time, the city of New York is going to commit ourselves. And a lot of the folks standing behind me today are going to be part of that important work, and we appreciate them.

And no one do we appreciate more than the commission’s honorary chair. I met the commission’s honorary chair one day in 1991 in City Hall. As some of you may know, I heard angels sing. I heard violins.

[Laughter]

I saw Cupid – an arrow struck my heart.

[Laughter]

I don’t think, at the time, we realized that we would have the opportunity to stand before you with these particular titles. But I can tell you one thing – back in 1991, I met a woman whose life was committed to breaking down taboos and barriers, who had personally committed herself to changing society through her own example. And the amazing thing is 24 years later she is doing the exact same thing, but doing for – doing it now for all of the people of this city as our first lady, and we are so proud of her. Ladies and gentlemen, Chirlane McCray.

[Applause]

First Lady Chirlane McCray: Happy Pride.

Thank you, Bill. He’s an extraordinary mayor, don’t you think?

You know, from the day we met back in 1991, he’s been a passionate supporter of the LGBTQ community. He was actually working on domestic partnership back then. We’ve come a long way.

Now I had to wonder when I met him – you know was he just putting on an act – you know to impress me. I really wondered, but now that we’ve been together almost 25 years – got two children – I can safely say Bill de Blasio is the real deal.

[Applause]

Your fight for equality is his fight for equality. And as Bill said, I am proud to serve as the honorary chair of a new team with a potential to make history, the New York City Commission on Gender Equity.

[Applause]

The commission will speak out to further the economic, and social inclusion, and equality of women and girls of all ethnicities in New York City. But this is just not a women’s thing. We want all New Yorkers, regardless of gender equity, to feel like city government understands where they’re coming from and where they’re going. We want city government to view the world through a wider lens – one that let’s in a panorama of experiences. I’ll say more about our mission in a moment, but first I want to explain why we chose the LGBTQ reception as the venue to introduce the commission. Because let’s be honest, there are some people out there who will wonder what gender equity and the gay community have in common --  well the answer is simple – everything. I speak from personal experience.

I moved here back in 1977 – a black feminist lesbian poet, looking – looking for a community. And late 70s, there was really only one place where one – someone with my kind of sophistication, my kind of sophisticated identity – could even dreaming of finding acceptance. And that was in New York City. Well, I didn’t really find full acceptance, but I did find a community, and for me, as a black women, being gay and feminist made total sense because we are fighting for so many of the same things. The right to be in a work place free of discrimination, the right to do what we wished with our bodies, and the right to love and marry as we see fit.

[Applause]

We can clap for that, right. Now the morning year since I arrived in New York City, the LGBTQ feminist and black communities have made tremendous progress. But we are a long way from achieving true equality. And that’s where the Commission on Gender Equity comes in.

What we are calling ourselves is important, as it always is. And that’s why we changed our name from the Commission on Women’s Issues, to reflect a reality – to reflect a reality that the LGBTQ community has long recognized. Gender, like sexual orientation, is not binary.

[Cheers]

Gender functions on a spectrum. People have the right to defend – people have the right to define how the express their gender. And we want everyone to know that New York City has your back, however you identify. We will be just as inclusive when it comes to ethnicity and income. This will be a commission for all New Yorkers. And we will focus on making sure that city resources, programs, and decision making programs are allocated fairly without discrimination. That’s what gender equity is all about.

[Applause]

Now, what does this mean in practice, you might ask? It means we’ll work to ease access to housing for families and institute more family friendly employment policies in our workplaces. It means we will work to place more [inaudible] in our fire and police departments.

[Applause]

And it means we will work to make sure women are being paid the same as their male counterparts for a day’s work.

[Applause]

The bottom line is we will accept nothing less than the full inclusion of women and girls of all ethnicities in our city. And I’m talking economically, socially, and politically.

We also want to help men break free of confining gender roles.

[Cheers]

Yes, we do. If their partners are paid fair wages and have a fair shot at advancing, that will provide men with more freedom to be their true selves. Our goals are ambitious. But I am confident we have the perfect group in place to make it happen. Just look at the statistics. Fifty percent of senior leadership positions in this administration are women – strong, kickass women who I am proud to count as colleagues.

[Cheers]

And now with the launch of the commission, the ranks of the kickass women will grow by 17.

[Laughter] 

The commissioners and honorary commissioners are just as impressive and diverse a group as you would expect. Just take a look at them. Take a look. They include dough makers, business leaders, teachers, social workers, organizers and, she’s not here with us tonight, but Gloria Steinem. Because, let’s be real, Gloria is in a category of her own. Now many of our commissioners are here with me on stage right now, and what a fabulous group of leaders. Please let’s give them one more hand.

[Applause]

I look forward to hearing their ideas on how we can work together to help correct the imbalances that continue to hold down too many New Yorkers. And I don’t even have to wait because one of our commission members has kindly agreed to share a few words with us tonight. Taina Bien-Aimé is the Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women, the first and the oldest international non-governmental organization dedicated to this cause. She is a proud lesbian, and I am proud to have her serve as a commission member. Please welcome Taina.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958