was the country that offered hope.
This was the place where dreams could come true - not
just economic dreams, but dreams of freedom, justice and equality."
A Woman's View: Dying
The following is part of Elizabeth
Glaser's address to the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Glaser was
HIV-positive at the time of the address and died within two years.
"I'm Elizabeth Glaser. Eleven years ago,
while giving birth to my first child, I hemorrhaged, and was transfused
with 7 pints of blood. Four years later, I found out that I had been infected
with the AIDS virus, and had unknowingly passed it to my daughter Ariel
through my breast milk, and my son, Jake, in utero.
"Twenty years ago, I wanted to be at the
Democratic Convention because it was a way to participate in my country.
Today, I am here because it's a matter of life and death.
"Exactly 4 years ago, my daughter died
of AIDS. She did not survive the Reagan administration. I am here because
my son and I may not survive 4 more years of leaders who say they care,
but do nothing.
"I am in a race with the clock. This is
not about being a Republican or an independent or a Democrat. It's about
the future for each and every one of us.
"I started out just a mom, fighting for
the life of her child. But along the way, I learned how unfair America
can be today, not just for people who have HIV, but for many, many people,
poor people, gay people, people of color, children. A strange spokesperson
for such a group, a well to do white woman. But I have learned my lesson
the hard way, and I know that America has lost her path, and is at risk
of losing her soul.
"America, wake up. We are all in a struggle
between life and death.
"I understand - I understand the sense
of frustration and despair in our country because I know first hand about
shouting for help, and getting no answer. I went to Washington to tell
Presidents Reagan and Bush that much, much more had to be done for AIDS
research and care, and that children couldn't be forgotten. The first time
when nothing happened, I thought they just didn't hear me. The second time,
when nothing happened, I thought maybe I didn't shout loud enough. But
now I realize they don't hear because they don't want to listen.
"When you cry for help and no one listens,
you start to lose your hope. I began to lose faith in America. I felt my
country was letting me down, and it was. This is not the America I was
raised to be proud of. I was raised to believe that others' problems were
my problems as well. But when I tell most people about HIV in hopes that
they will help and care, I see the look in their eyes. It's not my problem,
they're thinking. Well, it's everyone's problem. And we need a leader who
will tell us that.
"We need a visionary to guide us, to say,
it wasn't alright for Ryan White to be banned from school because he had
"To say it wasn't alright for a man or
a woman to be denied a job because they're infected with this virus. We
need a leader who is truly committed to educating us.
"I believe in America, but not with a
leadership of selfishness and greed, where the wealthy get health care
and insurance and the poor don't.
Do you know...
"Do you know how much my AIDS care
costs? Over $40,000 a year. Someone without insurance can't afford this.
Even the drugs that I hope will keep me alive are out of reach for others.
Is their life any less valuable? Of course not.
"This is not the America I was raised
to be proud of, where rich people get care and drugs that poor people can't.
We need health care for all.
" We need a leader who will say this,
and do something about it.
" I believe in America, but not a leadership
that talks about problems, but is incapable of solving them. Two HIV commission
reports, with recommendations about what to do to solve this crisis, sitting
on shelves, gathering dust.
"We need a leader who will not only listen
to these recommendations, but implement them.
"I believe in America, but not with a
leadership that doesn't hold government accountable. I go to Washington,
to the Nationall Institutes of Health, and say show me what you're doing
on HIV. They hate it when I come, because I try to tell them how to do
it better. But that's why I love being a taxpayer, because it's my money,
and they must feel accountable.
"I believe in an America where our leaders
talk straight. When anyone tells President Bush that the battle against
AIDS is seriously underfunded, he juggles the numbers to mislead the public
into thinking we're spending twice as much as we really are. While they
play games with numbers, people are dying.
"I believe in America, but an America
where there is a light in every hope. A thousand points of light just wasn't
enough. My house has been dark for too long. Once every generation, history
brings us to an important crossroads. Sometimes in life there is that moment
when it's possible to make a change for the better. This is one of those
moments. For me, this is not politics. This is a crisis of caring.
"In this hall is the future. Women, men,
of all colors saying, take America back. We are just real people wanting
a more hopeful life. But words and ideas are not enough. Good thoughts
won't save my family. What's the point of caring if we don't do something
"A president and a Congress that can work
together so that we can get out of this gridlock and move ahead, because
I don't win my war if the president cares and the Congress doesn't, or
if the Congress cares and the president doesn't support the ideas.
"The people in this hall, this week, the
Democratic Party, all of us can begin to deliver that partnership. And
in November, we can all bring it home.
"My daughter lived 7 years, and in her
last year, when she couldn't walk or talk, her wisdom shone through. She
taught me to love, when all I wanted to do was hate. She taught me to help
others, when all I wanted to do was help myself.
"She taught me to be brave, when all I
felt was fear. My daughter and I loved each other with simplicity. America,
we can do the same.
"This was the country that offered hope.
This was the place where dreams could come true - not just economic dreams,
but dreams of freedom, justice and equality.
" We all need to hope that our dreams
can come true.
"I challenge you to make it happen. Because
all our lives, not just mine, depend on it.