Warm greetings to all those participating in the 1997 Gay and Lesbian Pride Celebration.
Throughout America's history, we have overcome tremendous challenges by drawing strength from our great diversity. We must never believe that our diversity is a weakness. The talents, contributions, and goodwill of people from so many different back- grounds have enriched our national life and have enabled us to fulfill our common hopes and dreams. As we stand at the dawn of a new century, we all must rededicate ourselves to reaching the vital goals of accep- tance and inclusion. America's continued success will depend on our ability to understand, appreciate, and care for one another.
We're not there yet, and that is why our efforts to end discrimination against lesbians and gay men are so important. Like each of you, I remain dedicated to ending discrimination and preserving the civil rights of every citizen in our society. We have begun to wage an all-out campaign against hate crimes in America -- crimes that are often viciously directed at gay men and lesbians. I have also endorsed and fought for civil rights legislation that would protect gay and lesbian Americans from discrimination. The Employment Non- Discrimination Act now being considered in Congress would put an end to discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the workplace -- discrimination that is currently legal in 39 states. These efforts reflect our belief in the right of every American to be judged on his or her merits and abilities, and to be allowed to contribute to society without facing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And they reflect our ongoing fight against bigotry and intolerance in our country and in our hearts.
My Administration's record of inclusiveness is a strong one, but it is a record to build on. I am proud of the many openly gay men and lesbians who serve with distinction in my Administration, and their impact will continue to be significant in the years ahead. I pledge to you that I will continue striving to foster compassion and understanding, working not simply to tolerate our differences, but to celebrate them.
Best wishes for a memorable celebration.
\s\ Bill Clinton