Maxine Waters

Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Dinner - March 11, 2018

Maxine Waters
March 11, 2018— Los Angeles, California
Human Rights Campaign Annual Los Angeles Dinner
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Thank you. Wow.

Wow. What a welcome. Thank you so very much. I’m not going to have a lot of time here this evening, but I’m going to take what time had been allotted, to try and continue, with you, my description of what I think is going on in Washington D.C. and with your president.

So, I want to begin by thanking the Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and Senior Vice President Jody Winter Hawk for the invitation to join you this evening. And I want you to know, Chad, your speech was fantastic.

I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be here with you tonight, in Los Angeles, along with Sarah McBride, the Human Rights Campaign national rights press secretary. Sarah McBride became the first transgender American to address a major party convention – that was DNC 2016. And my colleague, Congresswoman Krysten Sinema. In celebration of the work this organization and the people on the ground have accomplished, and the fights we have ahead to protect the advances made under the Obama administration.

But I want to thank everyone in this room. As I have said before, no one has done more for you than you have done for yourself. It is the time, the energy, the money, the blood, sweat, and tears that each of you put into this movement that advanced LGBTQ equality in ways some never thought it was possible. I have to tell you, I have a lot of friends in the LGBTQ community and have been very active in this movement for many years and I want to take time to remind you of those who took time to educate me, to work with me, to nurture me over the years and I want to tell you it is that kind of love and support that has helped me to become who I am. How many of you are old enough to remember Morris Kite?

He was a good friend, served for more than 20 years on the Los Angeles Human Rights Commission; he was a cofounder of the gay and lesbian community service center of LA; he was also a key organizer of the West Coast’s first gay pride parade and celebration in 1970. If you did not know him, and you weren’t old enough to know him – I want you to know that was a real advocate who stood alone oftentimes and worked with elected officials when I was but a worker, working in politics and volunteering in politics, and I will always remember him and the work that he did and the way that he showed so much support for me and helping me, again, to become who I am.

How many remember Sheldon Adelson? He was a university of California regent and a Democratic Party heavyweight, once regarded as the nation’s most influential gay political figure. I think he was a wonderful human being, and I want to thank him for having the audacity to organize a bank – because he said “if you don’t want to service us we will own our own bank, and we will provide the services.” And then there was Jewel Williams. You know Jewel opened Catch One, one of the first black discos in the country. And the Catch was known as the last black owned gay club in Los Angeles when it closed in 2015. Give Jewel a big round of applause.

I don’t know if you remember Carl Bean. He was a Los Angeles based gospel singer, aids activist, and archbishop of the Unity fellowship church who sang the powerful vocals on the 1977 Motown classic “I was born this way” – the song, where Bing triumphantly proclaims in the chorus, “I’m happy, I’m carefree, and I’m gay. I was born this way” – give him a big round up.

And then there was my dear friend David Mixner, who’s in New York now. He was often political strategist, civil rights activist, and public affairs advisor. David Mixner blogs on his passions, progressive politics, foreign policy, LGBT rights, wildfire advocacy. Once again, by Newsweek, he was identified as the most powerful gay man in America. David has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years. Give him a big round of applause.

I’d like to just share with you some of the work that I’ve tried to do. I was among the early opponents of the defense of marriage – that is DOMA – and spoke out against the measure on the House floor before voting no on its passage. I led the effort to create the minority AIDS initiative – a federal program that, since 1999, has funded organization to reduce the spread of HIV in Black, Latino, and other minority populations.

And, also, to improve health outcomes among those living with HIV or AIDS. As a member of congress, and now the ranking member of the House Financial Services committee, I have fought to protect programs that matter to the LGBTQ community – including, the housing opportunities for persons with AIDS known as HOPWA, a program that provides safe and stable housing opportunities for persons with HIV or AIDS; as many of whom are LGBTQ. We recently updated the formula for the HOPWA program to better target the funding to those communities that need it the most, and I’m proud to report that a corresponding increase in funding for the HOPWA program accompanied that change. Under this new administration however, we need to remain vigilant in protecting programs that we know work, including HOWPA for example, and I for one will never advocating for the resources that LGBTQ people need to succeed.

We are of course dealing with an administration that has been hostile to LGBTQ individuals, from the very beginning. In fact, we have been bombarded with numerous policies from the White House rescinding important rights and protections for LGBTQ people across various programs and sectors. Under Secretary Carson’s leadership – that’s Ben Carson I’m talking about. That’s the one that they say is so brilliant; brain surgeon. Send him back to the operating room. We don’t need him [inaudible].

Under Carson’s leadership the department of Housing and Urban development has also followed suit. Specifically, I understand in that in 2017 HUD purged a set of tools that provided guidance for homeless service providers to better insure equal access and safety for LGBTQ individuals in homeless shelters. I understand that this decision was made quickly and without any notification to providers that the materials were being removed from the website. LGBTQ individuals who experience homelessness face unique challenges and it is total unacceptable that HUD has backed away from its responsibility to provide homeless service providers with the tools and guidance they need to ensure compliance with civil rights laws and HUD’s non-discrimination rules.

This week, it appears Ben Carson has further signal the direction he has taken HUD as we just learned he announced a proposed change to HUD’s mission statement, and that would remove text promising inclusive and discrimination free communities. This is just the latest in a series of hostile overtures the Trump administration has made against the LGBTQ community. These actions include Trump’s attempt to reinstate a ban on Trans service members; proposing a budget with devastating cuts to programs assisting people with living with HIV; and an amicus brief Trump’s Justice Department filed arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not protect the LGBTQ community. Well, what do I think about all of this?

When we think of the advances we’ve made it, is no surprise that so many of us are utterly devastated by the election of Donald Trump. I have been very clear about my opposition to this president. And everyone knows what I believe – I believe he is one of the most dishonorable, deceitful, and despicable people ever to hold public office.

He has undermined the rule of law. He has isolated the United States’ allies. He has decimated our country’s standing and leadership around the world. He has empowered and emboldened white nationalists, racists, criminals, and conmen just like himself. He flew to Puerto Rico after the island was ravaged by a hurricane, insulted San Juan’s mayor, and proceeded to throw paper towels at our follow Americans who are, to this day, still trying to recover from that storm. He endorsed a pedophile that ran by the United States Senate, and defended wife beaters on his White House staff. This man lies on a daily basis, and for all of the people and institutions he has insulted over the last two years, the only person he will not offend or criticize is Vladimir Putin – a brutal dictator, who does not share our nation’s interests around the world. Of course, none of this should surprise any of us, because Donald Trump revealed and showed who he is and what he was all about throughout his campaign. Don’t forget this is a man who bragged about grabbing women by their private parts, and said that he could get away with it because he is famous. This a man who said Mexican immigrants living in the United States are rapists. Has implied that all Muslims are terrorists and has implied that all African Americans just live in hell. This is a man who insulted gold star families. A man that demeaned woman. A man that has over a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him. A man who has cheated contractors. A man who has defrauded students through that fake Trump University. A man that said a federal judge could not be fair in one of his cases because he is Mexican. A man who stalked Hilary Clinton during the St. Louis presidential debated, called her crooked, and said she belonged in jail. This is a man who is so well known in the private sector to be so unscrupulous that the only bank that would lend him money is that Deutsche Bank – the one that has a history of money laundering.

You may have heard, that Donald Trump recently attacked me at the Gridiron Club Dinner last week, and people are asking “oh my goodness what do you think about that?” – well I tell you what I think about it.

I certainly expected him to do something like that; I don’t know why it took him so long. Don’t forget, this man whose disparaging me has been called stupid, ignorant, uninformed, unhinged, and a moron by his own staff and appointees – and so he had the nerve to attack me. But, you may know, that for months his allies have been attacking me, right here in Los Angeles, and on social media. I’m not worried about any of them, because I am convinced that Roger Stone and Sheriff Joe Arpaio that have been working with my opponent, won’t have long to continue to do this – their time will be up soon, as soon as they are busted by our special council.

I’m convinced, that our special council Mueller is going to connect the dots – he’s doing a fabulous job of it. And this president would like to fire him, but he knows that should he do that, that not only will his days be over as the president of the United States because he will be on the road to impeachment.

Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, I have believed that this president was involved in collusion long before the investigations really started. I paid attention to him, all doing his campaign, and decided to do a lot of research about him. And I discovered that he and his allies really were moving toward Russia because it was going to be the new money playground for them. I discovered, that not only was it going to be the new money playground for them, that, if they could get the relationship between Putin and this president where this president would get support from Putin and the Kremlin and the oligarchs of Russia, that this president, when elected, would lift the sanctions that Obama had put on, and that this president would work with them so that they could get the supplies that they needed to drill into the arctic – and that’s why Tillerson is there. Tillerson comes from that oil company where he had already made a deal with the Kremlin and with Putin to drill into the Arctic and, for billions of dollars, lots of money at stake. And so, now we’re looking at this president, who obviously has colluded, and the more that mullah gets into this investigation and connects the dots we’re finding that absolutely he has colluded, and in addition to that he has been obstructing justice right before our very eyes. And so, I don’t know how long his Republican friends on the opposite side of the aisle are going to stand with him. You know these are the ones who claim that they’re more patriotic than anybody else, but I want to tell you something – you in this audience are way more patriotic than they will ever be.

You have taken the abuse. You have loved your country. You have worked with your country. You have done everything to strengthen this democracy – that’s what real patriotism is all about, it is not about what is happening now with Republicans who are intimidated and afraid to stand up against this man. And so I want to commend you, for being patriotic, and I want you to describe yourself and everything that you do as being patriotic Americans who love this country; and who’ve stood with this country; who’ve supported this democracy; and you’ve refused to allow anybody to separate you from your right to be a legitimate part of everything that goes on.

And so, despite all that’s going on and the way that they’re lying about me; forging documents; the nasty billboards that they are putting up; the racist smears; and the dirty tricks to try and defeat me in this election – I’m in this fight.

I am not going to back down. And I believe that all of us deserve better than Donald Trump – I believe this country deserves better than Donald Trump. The resistance is a progressive movement against this president, composed of everybody – women, men, trans, gay, White, Black, Latino, Muslim, Asian, young, and old – who have been energized and activated by all of the terrible things Trump is trying to do. I’m so honored to have been adopted by them – and especially the Millennials, who view me as their auntie, in the resistance.

I have been encouraged. I have been encouraged by the activism and the energy by people throughout the country who are seeking to reclaim their country. And I want you to know, that as I have had to deal with his cabinet, you can see what was needed. Betsy DeVos, secretary of education – she’s never seen the inside of a classroom. She’s never served on a parent-teacher’s advisory board. She’s never done anything except try to privatize all of education, and do away with public education. She’s got to go also.

I’m not going to tell you anymore about Ben Carson but let me talk you about Mnuchin, who is your treasury secretary. He came before my committee and, when I asked him why he had not responded to communications that I had sent to him, he tried to snow me; he tried to talk over me; he wanted to tell me how great I was – and I said no, this is not about me, this is about you. Now this secretary is one who is known as the ‘foreclosure king’. He has foreclosed, and had foreclosed, on over 36,000 residences in the Southern California area. And here he was having, been appointed by the President of the United States of America, and pretending to a treasury secretary. And so, when he continued to try and talk over me, that’s when I popularized the phrase “reclaiming my time.”

Reclaiming my time. And so, from the women’s march, to the tax march, to the resist march in Los Angeles, and so many demonstrations, and conferences in between I have been present and vocal – delivering a message that I hope would inspire, and to move people to action. I wanted everyone to know that they had a right to be angry about the election of Trump. That this president is not normal.

But that, all is not lost – because each of us has a power to set this country back on track. I feel very confident and hopeful about the future, because I know there’s so many people here tonight, and in cities and towns across the United States, who are about to reclaim their time and reclaim this country. So, we are counting on all of you to show up during the 2018 midterms and vote for people who will restore this democracy and uphold everything that we have fought for to advance the LGBTQ equality. And Ladies and gentleman again, I keep bringing up Mueller’s name because I have so much faith in him, I like the work that he is doing, I organized most of the Democrats to send a letter of support and shared with the press – and I’m going to keep on supporting him. And in the final analysis I think he’s going to get him.

And if, for some reason, he’s not able to get him, I’m counting on Stormie to do it.

Thank you all so very much.

Waters, M. [Human Rights Campaign]. (2018, March 11). U.S. Representative Maxine Waters Speaks at HRC Los Angeles Dinner [] Retrieved on April 1, 2022 from