U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, spoke Sept. 20, 2012, at the Log Cabin Republicans' annual Spirit of Lincoln Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Here's the text of Ros-Lehtinen's speech:
Wow, thank you, Grover [Norquist], for that kind introduction.
And thank you so much to Executive Director Clarke Cooper and to the rest of the Log Cabin Republicans’ national staff (Don Bramer, Casey Pick and Tim Rogers) for again putting together such a fine event – you continue to outdo yourselves each year.
I am so happy to once again be at the Spirit of Lincoln Awards, and it is both an honor and privilege to be this year’s keynote speaker, and to be the recipient of the Spirit of Lincoln Award.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak at this, and so many other Log Cabin Republican events before, and it’s always a pleasure.
In the past, I have spoken about the exciting progress we have made to ensure equal rights for all Americans, and of the great victories we have had in Congress and state legislatures across the country.
I’ve spoken about the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and of the need to end discrimination nationwide;
In fact, just it was this time last year that I signed on as the first Republican cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.
But those success stories were all in the past.
And while those were historic victories, we are here to look forward.
We are here to recognize the individuals who continue to work so hard to achieve new victories for individual liberty, equality, human rights and American virtues.
I extend warm congratulations to both David Lampo and Christian Berle, who are being recognized tonight with the Ronald Reagan Award for their dedicated service to LCR.
And then there is the man who has helped to lay the foundation for conservatives to take stewardship of limited government principles and equality.
That of course is tonight’s Uncommon Courage Award honoree – Former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, Ted Olsen.
I know how proud he must be to be given this award for his leadership and outspoken stance on the fundamental rights we all have as Americans.
There couldn’t be a more deserving person to be honored here tonight.
The work Ted has done has been invaluable for the LGBT community.
The arguments he has articulated in defense of equality should be viewed as the seminal work, not just for conservatives, but for all Americans who value our inherent rights of equal protection under the law, guaranteed to us all by our Constitution.
All of us here can agree that the Constitution is a truly remarkable document, and perhaps one of the most important legal documents in all of human history.
In just 4,400 words, the Constitution is the document that guides our basic principles as Americans and has been the model that so many other nations have sought to replicate across the globe.
And maybe it’s just coincidence, but here we all are tonight – We the People –together, just three short days after the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers;
Here we sit – united - in an effort to ensure that everyone is afforded their intrinsic rights, granted to us all by birth and enshrined and protected by the United States Constitution;
Here we are to say with conviction and resolve that equality is not a concept at odds with conservative ideals, but it is at the very core of our ideals.
It is not about the government creating “special rights,” but about protecting rights.
This isn’t about creating yet another regulation, nor is it about government overreaching;
This is about limiting the role of federal government; it is about freedom from government encroachment on personal liberties.
We all want the same thing: the ability to make our own decisions, free from government interference.
We want the dignity to be treated as equals, not just in the eyes of our fellow citizens, but in the eyes of our government.
The government should not be in the business of defining marriage, just as the government should not be in the business of forcing individuals to enter into binding contracts with private companies, or to regulate inactivity.
And that is what we are all here for tonight.
This is what we all are working so hard for;
To remind everyone that the principles of conservatism and those of the Log Cabin Republicans are in perfect harmony.
Because ultimately, in its most basic form, the very essence of what the framers had envisioned is a promise of equality; a promise of freedom.
You know -- ours is a tremendous responsibility.
We not only have a responsibility to each other, but to our founding fathers as well.
We have to pick up the mantle; we are the bearers of their torch; we are the ones who can make their vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – for all – a reality.
It has taken us time as a country to get there, but I believe we are on the precipice of a new day;
A new day in which their vision of freedom for all finally comes to fruition.
And that is where you, the Log Cabin Republicans come in.
You have been working so diligently to build a stronger, more inclusive party;
One that adheres to the core principles of conservatism, and indeed, to the core principles on which this nation was founded.
You are helping to remove a barrier that prevents our party from expanding and uniting under a common banner.
I look forward to working with the Log Cabin Republicans to help repeal DOMA, and I thank you for inviting me here tonight, and for this wonderful recognition.