Message from U.S. Ambassador Robert Cushman Barber

The United States and Iceland:  From Stonewall to the future

Robert Cushman Barber, U.S. Ambassador
Robert Cushman Barber, U.S. Ambassador

I am delighted to once again extend my greetings to all the participants in Reykjavik Pride. The U.S. Embassy is a proud supporter of LGBTI rights and Reykjavik Pride.

This year’s focus on the history of the LGBTI movement can be tied back to the Stonewall Riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village in June 1969, which ignited a movement to fight for basic human rights for the LGBTI community. This movement led to the world’s first Pride Parade in New York City the following year which then spread across the United States and well beyond its borders.

Since then much has changed in the United States, in Iceland, and around the world.  Last year’s historic Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a monumental victory for LGBT Americans, declaring equality as the law of the land. This historic ruling instilled newfound hope for every partnership that was not previously recognized as lawful, affirming the conviction that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.

Despite these advances, much work remains to be done.  The attack on the LGBTI community in Orlando, Florida in June underscores the need to increase common understanding and to respect our differences.  Last year, as a sign of commitment to LGBTI rights around the world, the U.S. Department of State appointed a special envoy to advocate for the rights of LGBTI people around the world. Randy Berry, an openly gay American diplomat with over 22 years of experience in the Foreign Service, was chosen for the position. Upon his appointment Randy Berry said: This love still stands ground for imprisonment, harassment, torture, and far worse in too many places around the world. That is a violation of human rights…We can and we must do better. Lives, futures, hopes and dreams depend on that, and that is why we’re here today.”

We can be grateful that Iceland is a place where we can all join together and celebrate Pride, while remembering the dramatic and dangerous struggles that people face in many parts of the world.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

“There remains much work to do… but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, June 1, 2016.
Presidential Proclamation – LGBT Pride Month, 2016.