Good morning. Thank you, Chris [Hook], for your kind words and for all the work that you, Marc [Salans], the Board of DOJ Pride and our EEO staff team have done in organizing today’s ceremony. It’s a pleasure to join Tom [Perez] in welcoming so many members of the Justice Department family, and so many distinguished guests, here today as we commemorate LGBT Pride Month. I’m glad that Senator [Amy] Klobuchar and Director [John] Clark are with us. And I want to congratulate Chris [Hook] and this year’s other award recipients, Councilmember [David] Catania and Attorney General [Doug] Gansler, on their achievements and contributions. I also want to thank our keynote speakers – Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, and Sharon Lubinski, U.S. Marshal for the District of Minnesota – for sharing their thoughts and stories with us and for providing an example of service for us all.
We have much to celebrate today. In the year since we last gathered, our nation – and the Justice Department – have taken steps to address some of the unique challenges faced by members of our country’s LGBT community. As you all know, up until last fall, there was not a single line in the nearly 225-year history of the U.S. Code that referred explicitly to gender identity. Today, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act – which the President signed into law last October – does just that, finally protecting our nation’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals from the most brutal forms of bias-motivated violence.
In another important development, in April of this year, the Justice Department concluded that the Violence Against Women Act covers, and more importantly protects, same sex partners. And, just several weeks ago, as part of the department’s, and the Administration’s, commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, I announced a new Diversity Management Plan and the appointment of Channing Phillips as Deputy Associate Attorney General for Diversity. With this initiative, and with Channing’s leadership, we’re working to ensure that the Department can effectively recruit, hire, retain, and develop a workforce that reflects our nation’s rich diversity, a Department that welcomes and encourages the contributions of its LGBT employees.
I’m grateful for the assistance and guidance that so many of you have given. Our progress would not have been possible without your contributions. And while we have meaningful achievements to celebrate today, we must remember how much more work we have to do to transform today’s opportunities into tomorrow’s successes. Too many of the challenges that confronted the LGBT community 16 years ago – when DOJ Pride was founded – confront us still today. Too many of the same obstacles that existed then remain for us to overcome. Too many talented men and women cannot, in the words of this year’s motto, "serve openly, with pride."
With your help and engagement, we’re working to ensure that the Justice Department lives up to its responsibility to provide a work environment where every employee is respected and given an equal opportunity to thrive. That’s the goal we share and the achievement we’ll keep working toward - together.