I have always loved the month of June. It is the first month of summer, the month I was married and it also happens to be LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Pride Month, commonly referred to as Gay Pride. As involved as I am in different activist causes, and none more than LGBT equal rights, I have only been to Gay Pride events twice in my life and neither time was really worth talking about. I guess it doesn’t matter as much to me because I try to live the message behind Gay Pride all year long (and I am not one for large crowds). For those who don’t know, Gay Pride is in June in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots (see links below for more information).
This year, I feel an additional sense of pride and accomplishment, however, because I look at how far the movement has come in the past year thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision last year, where it struck down the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage in the case United States v. Windsor. This has seemed to open doors that should have never been closed in the first place. Since the ruling, ten states have legalized gay marriage while eight states have stayed decisions pending appeal after lower courts told them to stop hating.
Yes, because that is what such laws are: institutionalized hate, and this month is all about rising above said hate and making a positive impact, as well as showing the positive impact LGBT people have made. If you include the states who are currently appealing, because they are determined to remain on the wrong side of history, 27 states (including the District of Columbia) recognize same-sex marriage, meaning more than half of this country is finally getting with it.
So this month, I am especially proud, and for once I am also proud of my country. Too often, the United States is behind on what’s right (slavery, women’s rights, the Civil Rights Movement – I could go on). For a country supposedly built on freedom, equality and equal rights for all, you would think this would be a given. But like every other movement that came before this, things are finally picking up.
John E. Jones, the federal judge who overturned Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage (and who was nominated by George W. Bush in 2002 – wanted to point that out) pointed out that gays and lesbians were seeking an old right, not asking for new rights (or special treatment). Jones said in his ruling, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
State laws regarding same-sex partnerships in the United States
Same-sex marriage allowed
Domestic partnerships or civil unions granting privileges similar to marriage for same-sex domestic partners
Limited/enumerated privileges granted by state
No prohibition or recognition of same-sex marriage or unions in territory law
Judicial ruling against a state constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage and similar unions stayed pending appeal
Judicial ruling against a ban on recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages stayed pending appeal
Statute bans same-sex marriage
Constitution and statute ban same-sex marriage
Constitution and statute ban same-sex marriage and similar same-sex unions
It feels good to see something that I was sure I would see in my lifetime, but less sure I would see so soon. So, I hope everyone celebrates this month. Gay Pride is not just about LGBT people celebrating their impact on the world, their pride and rising above the hate – it is about everyone celebrating those things. Allies make all the difference in the world, in any movement, and if you stand up for equal rights for everyone and believe that everyone is truly created equal… well that is something to be proud of. Compared to nearly half of the population in this country you’re already ahead of the game. So celebrate, be proud and remember that every human being deserves basic human rights.
As for me, I’m going to get up and do a little dance. 😉 Hey, that is how I like to celebrate.