Every June, millions of people part of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies gather to celebrate the existence and beauty of different forms of love and connection. This month of wholesome, deserving support was initiated to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, and soon turned into a movement to push forward the idea of equality of all people regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation.
Stonewall Inn was a nightly home for many runaways and homeless gay youth. It was one of the few, if not the only, gay bar left that allowed dancing.
Before 1966, the New York State Liquor Authority penalized and shut down establishments that served alcohol to known or suspected LGBT individuals, arguing that the mere gathering of homosexuals was “disorderly,” but due to activist efforts these regulations were overturned in 1966. However, engaging in gay behavior in public (holding hands, kissing) was still illegal so police harassment of gay bars continued. Fed up with constant police harassment and social discrimination, angry patrons and neighborhood residents hung around outside of the bar rather than disperse, becoming increasingly agitated as the events unfolded and people were aggressively manhandled:
June 24, 1969: Police arrest Stonewall employees, confiscate alcohol. The NYPD raid began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when the police decided to raid the Stonewall Inn.
June 27-28, 1969: Stonewall crowd erupts after police arrest and rough up patrons.
Early hours of June 28, 1969:Transgender women resist arrest. Bottles are thrown at the police.
Close to 4 a.m. June 28, 1969:Police retreat and barricade themselves inside Stonewall.
June 28-29: Stonewall reopens, supporters gather. Police beat and tear gas crowds.
June 29-July 1, 1969: Stonewall becomes a gathering point for LGBT activists.
July 2, 1969: Gay activists protest newspaper coverage.
The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement, and it’s impact is seen in protective legislation in the United States and around the world.
While an increasing number of states work to pass laws to protect LGBTQ people, we continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people, limit local protections, and allow the use of religion to discriminate.
Supportive bills would look like Affirmative Nondiscrimination Bills with comprehensive protection. These bills would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (or only gender identity if state law already covers sexual orientation), in a range of contexts, including employment, housing, and public accommodations. Comprehensive bills do not have overly broad religious exemptions or other carve-outs that allow discrimination against LGBT people.
There are also some bills that may look like supportive bills but are not effective. These are known as *incomplete bills. They lack gender identity protections, do not prevent discrimination in all key contexts, and contain broad religious exemptions language or carve-outs, including for sex-segregated facilities. Among this same level, state bills that preempt local protections are another form of incomplete or rather ineffective bills that prevent cities and other local government entities from passing nondiscrimination protections that are more expansive than the protections offered at the state level.
Of the 24 statewide supportive bills across only 15 of the 50 states, only one has been signed by the governor of its state so far (New Hampshire).
Outright discriminatory bills are known simply as anti-LGBT bills. These bills are masked in numerous ways including:
- Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs)
- First Amendment Defense Acts (FADAs)
- Health Care Access
- Adoption & Foster Care
- Marriage-Related Exemptions
- Schools and Student Organizations
- Single-Sex Facility Restrictions
- Identification Documents
- And unfortunately, even more
According to the ACLU, there are over 50 of these types of bills in almost all 50 states. A substantial amount was killed on the legislative body’s table but there are enough bills that have either already been signed by their states governor or have been moved forward to be discussed in committees.
Throughout history, there has been an enormous pushback from public institutions and governments to implement laws and legislation for the good of equity and in the name of equality. Even up until the 21st century, there are numerous discrimination-based laws across America that constantly put up a brick wall for the LGBTQ community to scale and it’s time the same wall-building institutions build them a ladder.
Pride month celebrates the incredible contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals and advocates in building today’s world. Year after year, pride gatherings bring the LGBTQ+ community together to celebrate the immense amount of persistence, courage, and strength that has brought them this far. Although we’ve come very far, there’s still a long way to go until we reach some version of a society that values and respects LGBTQ+ equality and authority.