The following are portions of remarks made this weekend by Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Gala.
What a great evening. Let’s begin by congratulating tonight’s co-chairs and tonight’s honorees — Kristin Chenoweth, Naomi Campbell, Matthew Lopez, Jeremy O. Harris — congratulations to all of you.
They say the secret to success is to clearly define a goal and then to pursue it with total conviction.
My goal has been to make New York State the leading champion in the nation for the LGBTQ community.
To be the state that ended discrimination, bias, intolerance, and judgmentalism against members of the LGBTQ community.
I am proud to say that New York has been at the forefront of your crusade for justice.
And in New York, we don’t believe it’s enough to just fight the good fight. It’s about fighting and winning, achieving progress and showing the rest of the nation the way forward. And that is what we are doing.
New York did that when we were the first big state to pass marriage equality and ignite a national campaign that swept across the country.
We did that when New York was the first state to announce we would end the AIDS epidemic and we are on track to do just that.
We did that when New York was the first state to protect transgender and gender non-conforming people from discrimination.
We did that when New York banned so-called conversion therapy and outlawed the gay and trans panic defense.
We did that when New York was the first state to expand Medicaid coverage to pay for transition procedures for transgender New Yorkers and to pass The Reproductive Health Act.
And we are just getting started. This year — with your help — we must pass gestational surrogacy, and expedite the second parent adoption process, to complete marriage and family equality.
Also this year, we must pass a repeal of the so-called Walking While Trans statute, so that people will no longer be unfairly targeted for what they look like.
Also this year, we will name the first State park after an LGBTQ person and we will name it after Marsha P. Johnson - an icon of the community.
We have much to celebrate to be sure, but we also have new challenges that we must recognize. Yes we are winning the legal battle for equality and justice for the LGBTQ community, but in many ways we are losing the broader war for equality.
This is a hateful, divisive, and ugly time in this country. The number of assaults on human rights is growing.
Today we see more attacks based on the color of a person’s skin, a person’s religion, a person’s nationality and a person’s sexual orientation than at any other time in modern history.
The FBI reported that last year this nation set a new record in the number of hate crimes.
Even in the state of New York, a state born from diversity, last year attacks against Latinos doubled and attacks against African Americans, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ New Yorkers went up by double digits.
While the attacks focus on different races, different ethnicities and different religions, at the same time the attacks are all the same. They are motivated by fear and intolerance targeting those who are different.
And the only way forward, my friends, is if we all take a broader view, we must form broader coalitions, and understand that an attack against any one of us for being different is an attack on all of us, because we are all different.
By definition this nation was founded on differences. There is no one American race or religion or orientation. We welcomed all and promised freedom and acceptance for all.
We have seen a rash of anti-Semitic attacks — 40 over the past two months and this week I visited Auschwitz in Poland to mark the 75th Anniversary.
Hearing the Auschwitz survivors speak of their experience and their isolation, degradation and alienation brought one to tears.
Hearing the survivors speak of their fear at seeing the current growing number of global assaults on minorities was chilling.
Their message was clear - we must not allow any violation of any group’s human rights because to allow the intimidation of one, the disrespect of one, the violation of one, is to invite the violation of anyone.
And that it is the responsibility of all of us to act, and act with urgency.
One Auschwitz survivor offered an eleventh commandment: Thou shall not be indifferent.
“Thou shall not be indifferent.”
The only correct course is to see beyond ourselves and to fight every transgression. Zero tolerance for any abuse against anyone.
It is a false comfort to sit idle when an attack is against a Jewish person because we are not Jewish. Or to sit idle when an attack is against a transgender person because we are not transgender. Or to sit idle when an attack is against a Muslim person because we are not Muslim.
We must see ourselves in every attack.
Every KKK attack, every swastika, every homophobic slur, every mosque defaced, every slap, every insult is an attack on each and every one of us, and we must respond that way. We must all speak up not just for our own interest, but for every interest.
We must all be members of one choir - the choir demanding justice for all and discrimination of none.
My hope for all of us at this pivotal time in this country is that while this nation struggles through this sea of confusion and division, New York can light the way.
That we can come together in a spirit of solidarity and proclaim with one voice: there’s no place for hate in our great state.
The solution is in your organization’s name — The Human Rights Campaign. The only way to win the campaign, the only way to secure the human rights of one is to secure the human rights of all.
Together we will.
Thak you and God bless you.