Star Trek Star, US Ambassador Tout Gay Rights
NEW YORK -- U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and "Star Trek" star Zachary Quinto joined forces Thursday to promote gay rights while commemorating the 45th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots.
"Without the relentless pressure exerted by this movement over 45 years since then, we would surely be in a different place today as a nation," Power said. "But the struggle sparked at Stonewall is far from over."
The Stonewall Inn riots are credited with launching the modern gay rights movement and more than 100 people attended the event at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College, one of many throughout June to celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
Power, Quinto and LGBT activists Bill Bahlman and Alyx Steadman noted progress in gay rights issues, pointing to 19 states that have legalized gay marriage and the large number of openly gay military members.
But they also spoke to the challenges faced by the gay rights movement, such as proposed state laws that would allow business owners to turn away LGBT people because of religious beliefs.
"How do we expand, not only in this country but around the world, this sense of acceptance?" Quinto said. "It can't rest on legislation or laws or rules. It has to be something more than that."
While many problems remain in the U.S., it can serve as an example of progress to other countries and use its power to make change in places that violate gay rights, including the nearly 80 countries that criminalize homosexuality, Power said.
"We have to be ready to bring our principles to bear in our foreign policy," Power said, noting actions the U.S. has already taken against Uganda for its enforcement of anti-homosexuality laws.
The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that acknowledged gay rights violations as human rights violations in 2011. The U.S. is a member of the U.N.'s LGBT Core Group, an alliance of nations against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Thomas Krever, CEO of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an LGBT advocacy group, said that the hour-long event was a good discussion, but too short to really get at the issues that need to be addressed.
"They did a wonderful job framing the challenges," Krever said of the event speakers. "But it would be great to have a conversation on possible solutions."