AFGE’s Women’s and Fair Practices Departments proudly welcomes you to LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a month to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions in the United States, starting with the first Pride March in New York on June 28, 1970, one year after the Stonewall Uprising.
In the last 50 years, activist groups and labor unions have been using their capacities to fight for equal rights, protections, and access for our LGBTQ+ community.
Though we have been rallying behind our LGBTQ+ community for decades, true federal change started in 1995 with the Federal Hate Crimes Sentencing Enactment Act which includes hate acts based on one’s actual or perceived gender or sexual identity, in addition to their race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or disability.
Between the late 90s and early 2000s, the pro-LGBTQ+ community continued to fight oppressive policies such as the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of 1993, and varying state initiatives which bar our LGBTQ+ community from equal rights and access. The LGBTQ+ finally started to gain ground in 2003 when the US Supreme Court struck down the "homosexual conduct" law, which decriminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, with their opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision also reversed Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 US Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia's sodomy law.
Victories for the LGBTQ+ community started at the state and local levels with Hawaii being the first state to recognize same-sex marriages in 1994, followed by Massachusetts in 2004, California in 2005, New Jersey in 2006, and many other states until same-sex marriage was finally legalized nation-wide in 2013. But, equality just doesn’t mean marriage equality; it means equality in every aspect of life and society.
To this day, our LGBTQ+ community still faces layers of discrimination throughout our society. From being barred from service at certain private businesses, to being denied housing due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, to being denied job opportunities and advancements because of their identities, this community is denied equal access and opportunity on a day to day basis. We need to keep fighting for our LGBTQ+ partners and counter oppressive and out of touch narratives which stigmatize this community.
Though we may not be able to do in-person events to celebrate Pride Month this year, it is still encouraged that our members stand in solidarity with their LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers as we continue to protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community.
We must make sure we make room in our community for these voices to be heard and lifted. Please stand with us as we continue to fight discrimination and further our uphill battle to secure equal rights and opportunities for our LGBTQ+ community at the federal, state, and local levels of government.
Change starts with you!