June is Pride Month for members of the LGBTQIA community. Major cities across the country host month-long celebrations, including parades, picnics, parties, concerts, and more. Memorials are also held to remember trailblazers in the community, those lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Pride Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of LGBTQIA people in the United States and the world.
Through the 1960s and decades prior, homosexuality was criminalized through laws and statues in the United States.
Even engaging in affectionate behavior in public (holding hands, kissing, or dancing) with someone of the same sex was illegal in most of the United States, leading to continued harassment and arrest of LGBTQIA individuals
There was even an executive order signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 banning homosexuals from working for the federal government. He sited a belief that homosexuals were a “security risk” and the reason for implementing the policy.
Beginning with Illinois in 1961, states gradually began to decriminalize homosexuality and, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a “mental disorder” until 1973. In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In recent years the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the movement to legalize same-sex marriage, the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the push for legislation to ensure civil rights protections to LGBTQIA have shown great lengths in the fight for equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Stonewall Riots
Pride is considered to have grown out from the Gay Rights Movement that followed the Stonewall Riots in New York City.
The Stonewall Riots began on June 28, 1969 after police aggressively raided the Stonewall Inn located in Greenwich Village. The following year, on the one-year anniversary of the riots, community members in New York City organized and participated in Christopher Street Liberation Day march. This is now considered to be the first gay pride parade.
On June 24, 2016, President Obama announced the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights known as The Stonewall National Monument which encompasses Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
Standing Up for Transgender Youth
Senate Democrats will continue to fight for equality and fair treatment for all individuals, regardless of the gender or sexuality they identify with.
In 2022, state Republicans have been pursuing legislation that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in female school sports. House Bill 972 has been passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and a similar bill has advanced out of the Senate Education Committee.
The legislation is discriminatory, and Governor Wolf has vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. As the bill advances through the Senate, state Democrats will continue to call out the bill for what it is- an assault on the identity of transgender individuals and an attempt to exclude and marginalize a group of people who are only seeking to be their authentic selves.
Instead of pursuing laws that disenfranchise the transgender and LGBTQIA community, we encourage our Republican colleagues to act on inclusionary legislative updates that recognize the reality of the LGBTQIA experience. Senate Democrats have introduced a number of bills to improve current systems and better serve and empower the LGBTQIA community, including:
Senate Bill 436 sponsored by Senator Street
Legislation that would help collect critical data about members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so they can be better served by policy makers inside and outside of government.
Senate Bill 437 sponsored by Senator Street
Legislation that would award grants to non-profit organizations and local governments for health care, cultural competency, computer training, job placement, social activities, and other programs that specifically help the LGBTQ+ senior community.
Senate Bill 1146 sponsored by Senators Kearney, Cappelletti, Muth, and Lindsey Williams
Legislation that would direct money from the general fund to establish a grant program, housed in DCED, for organizations, county governments, and municipal governments that assist transgender individuals in navigating the process of changing their names.
Senate Bill 1149 sponsored by Senators Lindsey Williams, Cappelletti, Kearney, and Muth
Legislation that would require the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to provide:
- Accurate, publicly available information detailing the name change process and the steps required in a widely available, accessible format.
- Dedicated and safe point of contact to help trans individuals navigate the name change process and connect with resources in their area.
- Training so that all staff, judges, and administrators involved in the name change process are knowledgeable, competent, and affirming.
Senate Resolution 89 sponsored by Senator Santarsiero
A Resolution recognizing February 15, 2022, as “Love is Love Day” in Pennsylvania.
What Does LGBTQIA Stand For?
Honoring Stonewall 50th Anniversary
On June 28, 1969, a mass protest broke out in front of the Stonewall Inn in New York City against the discriminatory practice of the police raiding bars that were frequented by members of the LGBT community.
The demonstration gathered more attention and community support as members of the community clashed with police forces for the following six days, leading the “Stonewall Riots” to become one of the most-well known catalysts for the LGBT Rights Movement in the United States.
50 years after this iconic display of community solidarity against discrimination, we recognize and honor the elders of the
LGBT Rights Movement who have lived their lives to ensure that LGBT+ Rights are indeed counted as Human Rights for all.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
Susan Atlas & Mary Groce