Thursday, October 21, 2010

American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana

Irving and Bea Fink
This weekend I was invited back to Indiana to be the keynote speaker at the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana fall dinner. In the afternoon on Saturday, I participated in two "How to be a Straight Ally" workshops led by 17-year old Millie Cripe. She is an incredible ally who interned at PFLAG Nation and brought the Straight for Equality message back to Indiana. At the dinner, the ACLU honored Irving Fink, the founder of the ACLU Indiana chapter, a lawyer with an outstanding and courageous record in cases of cvil liberties. The theme was "Carrying the Torch of Liberty and Passing It On" complete with an image of the Statue of Liberty. I guess it was meant to be for me to be their guest keynote speaker.

I want to share a brief except of my 20 minute speech-yeah it was a long one...

My ultimate goal is to affect positive and lasting change. Whether that is through being Miss New York or Miss America, blogging about equality updates and my opinions, or being a really great sister and role model. Jobs may come and go, but your voice is always there and I think it’s important to use it as much as you can with your family and friends behind you. My mission is to open the dialogue about the civil rights movement of my generation and lead the conversation with strength, compassion and conviction, wrapped in respect, maturity and open-mindedness. 

Jane Addams said "… the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." The laws will change, and it is imperative that they do; but our social climate must evolve as well to reflect the necessary equality that all people deserve. Whether it is beginning a revolution, becoming an activist, or simply opening a conversation or stopping the gay joke from being told at dinner, we all have a part in this change. It is our responsibility to defend our freedoms, our friends and families, and ourselves.

This dinner was really special because in addition to my parents, almost my entire family could be there - sisters Sarah and Hannah and her boyfriend Joel, my brother's fiancé Danielle and their son Logan (2 months old, wore a tie and a newsies hat), my grandparents and good friends Amanda and Brian. Thank you to Gil Holmes and all of the board members and volunteers of the ACLU of Indiana for inviting me to be a part of such a neat experience.

and just because he's the cutest thing I've ever seen -- here's another picture of my nephew Logan :)

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