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Ricky Martin Surprises HRC Dinner

Ricky Martin Surprises HRC Dinner


Singer Ricky Martin was the surprise opening guest at the black-tie Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C., Saturday night. As guests were taking their seats, Martin took the stage to welcome them -- and to thank them for welcoming him.

"This is very simple," he said. "It took me a while, but tonight I'm here and I want to say that I want to add my voice to yours. And I'm so happy to be part of this community."

The night's keynote speaker was Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, who focused her remarks on the recent suicides among LGBT youth.

"No young person should have to endure a life of relentless taunts and harassment, just because they're gay," she said. "On behalf of President Obama, I want to make clear this administration is firmly committed to working with you and other advocates."

Jarrett highlighted a number of administration initiatives targeting bullying, including the first National Bullying Summit, coordinated by the Department of Education last August, and an alliance of public and private suicide experts, called the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, just organized by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"When it comes to putting a stop to the bullying and harassment of LGBT youth, we are not going to let up," she said. "We are going to stand with you. We are going to stand with every young person in this country who deserves to grow up, learn, have fun, and live their lives."

As he introduced Jarrett, HRC president Joe Solmonese told the crowd that he and other HRC staffers were flying to Salt Lake City this week to join Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center, and Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons to deliver approximately 150,000 petition signatures demanding that Mormon Church leader Boyd Packer correct his recent statement calling same-sex attraction "impure and unnatural."

"Tonight across the country there are millions of kids struggling with their sexual orientation or their gender identity," Solmonese said. "They are quite literally under attack by the people that they look up to, people in positions of power, people who falsely perpetrate the idea that being gay is somehow unhealthy or immoral. ... It is horrifying and irresponsible when the second-highest official in the Mormon Church tells the world the being gay is 'impure and unnatural' and claims that you can simply pray it away." (Go here to sign the petition HRC will deliver to Mormon Church headquarters on Tuesday.)

Also on hand at Saturday night's event were actress Mo'Nique, who introduced honoree Precious director Lee Daniels, Modern Family actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, and Bette Midler, who introduced honoree Pink.

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