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Yeardley Smith at HRC Gala: You Don't Get to Cherry-Pick Human Rights

Yeardley Smith

The Simpsons actress delivered a moving speech on the importance of being an ally when accepting the HRC National Leadership Award.


Yeardley Smith received the HRC National Leadership Award.

The actress, who has voiced Lisa on The Simpsons for over 30 years, took the stage at the HRC Los Angeles Dinner 2019 Saturday at the JW Marriott L.A. Live to be honored for her work as a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community.

During her speech, Smith discussed how she is often asked "why I'm such a loyal supporter of LGBTQ rights."

"I admit I don't really understand the question," Smith said. "Because the issues facing the community go from enormous to life-threatening, where at one end of the LGBTQ spectrum, we have people being denied equal protections in 30 states in public places. That means that you're not safe in city parks because of your sexual orientation. And at the other end of the spectrum, you're being murdered for who you are and who you love."

"So like I said, I don't really understand the question," Smith continued. "But my answer is simple and always the same ... You do not get to cherry-pick people's human rights."

Smith is a longtime advocate. Instrumental in the fight for marriage equality, the 54-year-old actress was the single largest funder in the opposition to California's Proposition 8. Smith was also part of a tribute to the victims of the Pulse shooting and helped the Human Rights Campaign in its get-out-the-vote campaign for the 2018 midterm elections.

At the Saturday gala, Smith took the opportunity to reaffirm her commitment to the LGBTQ rights movement in an era when rights are being attacked by the federal government.

"I am here tonight as your ally to continue to faithfully provide grist for our collective mill," Smith said. "To stand by you as you live deliberately with dignity and courage despite in many cases tremendous personal loss when you declare who you are, fighting a fight you never asked for, but doing so with such grit and such fuck all-ness it is a joy to watch.

"I am here to march with you. To rally. To gather, and vote. To stop the relentless and systematic assault by this bigoted, vindictive administration who is hell-bent on stripping us all of the progress we have made politically and humanly over the past 50 years. Assholes."

"One of my favorite expressions is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train. You all are the light," she said.

Chad Griffin, HRC's president, lauded Smith as a "true changemaker and extraordinary ally" in a statement. "Through her unwavering commitment and bold leadership, Yeardley has helped change countless hearts and minds and improved the lives of LGBTQ people across this country," said Griffin.

Featured speakers at the HRC L.A. Dinner included Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker. The event also had performances from Betty Who, Shea Diamond, and comedian Dana Goldberg.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.