I’m thrilled to present to you Bruce Darling Bruce Darling:
Okay so now I’m completely off script immediately so whoever took less than four seconds in the pool won. Um, I just– it’s an honor to be on the stage with Marilyn Golden.
My personal hero since like 1985 and the apparent reincarnation of Elvis.
[Laughter] I’d have to say this is
one of those things I never expected to occur in my life but you know yay. All right so, a little more seriously, thank you. Many of us carried the ADAPT banner and fought the repeal of Obamacare and Medicaid cuts. So when we recognize ADAPT for saving healthcare that’s an acknowledgement of the work we all have done.
And I really want to reinforce that.
It’s the work we all have done.
And it was amazing work. Following the arrests
in McConnell’s office our community sustained a level of direct action over time and geography that had never before been achieved. it was awesome to watch
and be a part of. [Applause] Some of our community put their bodies on the line literally.
We were assaulted, injured and jailed.
But the images of disabled Americans being dragged away by police, thrown on the ground and dumped out of their wheelchairs were visceral. Our community’s collective work in mainstream and social media helping the non-disabled world understand those images and our message literally transformed the discussion about
healthcare into one about civil rights.
It was a great victory but the events of this year have the potential to change so much more.
So it seems that progressives have generally assumed that when supporting disability rights it was some form of charity. So when ADAPT pushed Democrats and Democratic leadership to support our cause and our legislation, the Disability Integration Act
[Audience member: Whoo!] we were frequently told–
yeah Whoo!– [Audience: Whoo!] we were frequently told the disability community didn’t raise enough money or wasn’t a strong enough voting block to matter.
We were told this. We didn’t contribute–
what does that sound like Marilyn? –so we didn’t deserve the support. We can see the impact of that.
Democrats feel comfortable co-sponsoring HR 620, a bill that undercuts the ADA and freely ignore our request that they co-sponsor the Disability Integration Act, a bill that ensures our freedom.
So I’d like to point out that although we talk about disability rights are bi–you know, are bipartisan the opposition to disability rights is also bipartisan.
But things changed this year when we, and I underscore we, saved healthcare.
We aren’t asking for charity anymore.
Our protests have demonstrated that we can and do contribute and we can
leverage that success. So as a gay man I understand this firsthand.
Okay so for more years then I can remember the LGBTQ community was a stepchild to the Democrats. We dutifully donated to a party whose members routinely assured us they wouldn’t ask, expected us not to tell and publicly oppose our right to marry. That only changed with the LGBTQ community demanded respect and support. the disability community can do the same damn thing. [Applause] And frankly, California is the perfect place to make this happen. With two Democratic senators and 39 Democrats in the house, including the Minority Leader, there are only–there are still only four Democrats co-sponsoring the Disability Integration Act. And worse California has six Democrats co-sponsoring HR 620, [Boos] a bill whose name I refuse to learn.
Would the LGBTQ community accept that? Absolutely not.
And neither should the disability community or the multitude of communities within the disability community.
With our collective victory in saving Obamacare we have the moral high ground.
Let’s use it. [Applause] We must keep reminding people
that there is no downside to inclusion of
people with disabilities. When the disability community wins everyone wins. And it goes both ways.
DREDF’s vocal and visible support for community engagement leading up to and during the recent No Hate San Francisco campaign I don’t know how you say it here but I see the signs.
That rally is a wonderful example of this principle in action. Justice work is changing. It’s intersectional and
it supports each other. Thankfully more activists and lawmakers are acknowledging that organizing is done in ways that cross intersections and none of us is in this alone.
And we’ve seen that with progressives during the fight for healthcare —
during our struggles. We saw support go back and forth between the disability community and the broader progressive community. What others say and do and what the disability community does influences the greater whole and we’ve had enough segregation of our– in our histories.
There need to be no more silos. There is no lane that the disability community needs to stay in because people with disabilities are in every lane.
Everyone– [Applause] and anyone who doesn’t understand that
is increasingly behind the times. We can and should demand that progre–the progressive tent be both bigger and more accessible. I know it’s hard when you are literally thousands of miles away from the frontlines of the–to resist Trump.
I got calls from folks in California all the time saying for God’s sakes what can you do? [Laughter] So during the fight over healthcare – which continues –
folks in California took action. Some were able to make trips to other places but many more were looking for ways to make a difference at home. So I’m asking you that while those of us who aren’t deep inside the red states and territories continue the fight to resist Trump, I’m calling on you to leverage our success in resisting Trump. Ensure that the Democrats and progressives understand disability rights are civil rights and that they need to act accordingly.
It will take all of us working together to do disability justice. So calling on you get your California Democrats off of HR 620,
that horrible bill. Get them on the Disability Integration Act because disabled Americans deserve life and liberty like everyone else because there is no damn asterisk in the Constitution that says
“unless you’re disabled.” Push them hard!
[Applause] We can do this just as we’ve done with saving Medicaid.
And I applaud DREDF’s work against legalizing assisted suicide. Marilyn Golden, as I said my personal hero, worked on this fro– has worked on this front and it’s a great example of DREDF’s critically important national leadership and leadership that we all – including ADAPT – follow. Thank you for that. People across the country – including me – appreciate your ever vigilant work both in the public eye and behind the scenes on behalf of our community and our movement.
Thank you very much. And Susan watching you here tonight as people came up to this stage it was an honor to see just how proud you were of everyone and how supportive you were. I wish everyone could have seen seen your face while folks were talking.
So thank you for– [Applause] –yes absolutely Susan.
[Applause] So thank you for everything you’re doing. And finally thank you for recognizing
ADAPT this evening it is truly an honor to be here. Thank you. [Applause]