Last weekend, Kerry Washington was presented with the Vanguard Award at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards. Washington’s riveting acceptance speech was received with two standing ovations, as the actress touched upon homophobia in the black community as well as all people fighting for equal rights for all.
“On Monday morning, people are going to click a link to hear what that woman from Scandal said at that awards show, and so I think some stuff needs to be said,” Washington said during her speech. Here’s what she said:
There are people in this world who have full rights and citizenship—in our communities, our countries—around the world. And then there are those of us who to varying degrees do not. We don’t have equal access to education and health care, and some other basic liberties like marriage, a fair voting process, fair hiring practices. Now you would think that those kept from our full rights of citizenship would band together and fight the good fight. But history tells us that no, often we don’t. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other and made to feel there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of “other.”
Washington went on to state:
“In 1997, when Ellen made her famous declaration, it took place in an America where the Defense of Marriage Act had just passed months earlier, and civil unions were not yet legal in any state – but also remember, just thirty years before that, the Supreme Court was deciding that the ban against interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Up until then, heterosexual people of different races couldn’t marry who they wanted to marry, either. So when Black people today tell me that they don’t believe in gay marriage…the first thing that I say is, ‘Please don’t let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interests by feeding you messages of hate.’ And then I say, ‘You know, people used to say stuff like that about you and your love, and if we let the government start to legislate love in our lifetime, who do you think is next?’
Check out Washington’s full speech below: