Civil rights leader Coretta Scott King was honored Friday night for her work in the gay community with a Circles of Hope Award from the Metropolitan Community Foundation, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organization that feeds the homeless and provides services to about 20,000 needy people each year in San Francisco.
"Mrs. King has stood up for us when she didn't have to," said the Reverend G. Penny Nixon, president of the foundation and pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church. "She stood up for us when she took criticism for standing up for us, and she has never, never let us down. She said, like Martin, 'I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.'"
Following several standing ovations and countless proclamations of "Thank you!" and "Amen!" shouted from the packed Fairmont Hotel ballroom, King, 75, said she isn't finished fighting. She said more resources must be spent to find a cure for HIV and that hate-crime laws must strengthened to include sexual orientation.
"We need more funding for diversity education so young people are inoculated against the toxic viruses of racism, sexism, and homophobia before they enter the work force," King said. "Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are entitled to the same respect and dignity as every other citizen."
Patti LaBelle later embraced King and belted out "The Lord's Prayer," followed by a rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis.
"I know she should be our next president," LaBelle joked. "She just gives so many people so much hope."