Political Accomplishments in the Season of Pride

Cities typically host their Pride celebrations in June to commemorate the historic uprising for LGBT rights at the Stonewall Inn in New York that began June 28, 1969, and continued for several days.

Now President Obama, in the last year of the most supportive presidential administration in U.S. history, is working to recognize the uprising with a national monument across the street from the Stonewall Inn, in Christopher Park.

On May 9, 2016, federal officials, including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y), attended a listening session to get feedback on the idea of adding this first LGBT monument to the National Park Service historical monuments. That would mean that National Park Service employees would be on hand at the monument to explain the history of the LGBT movement to visitors.

Obama hopes to make this decision final during June, which would allow the LGBT community to celebrate it during Pride month.

May 9 also marked the beginning of Obama’s most recent effort to advance the rights of LGBT people – protecting transgender individuals and their right to use bathrooms of their own choice.   

On that day, U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced a federal civil rights lawsuit against the State of North Carolina. In addition, Lynch said: “We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement. While the lawsuit currently seeks declaratory relief, I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.”

The Human Rights Campaign called Lynch’s speech “a milestone for transgender rights,” expressing appreciation that she went beyond merely announcing the lawsuit. She also gave context to the suit and addressed transgender individuals directly. Lynch said:This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us. And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.”

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to continue the Obama legacy and vote a Democratic president into office this November.

With that thought in mind, make this your best year of celebrating Pride. Locally, Kansas City hosts its annual PrideFest June 3-5 and St. Joseph hosts its event June 18-19. More details on each can be found at www.gaypridekc.org and at www.facebook.com (search for St. Joe Pride).

Happy Pride month!

‘Religious freedom’ bill defeated in Missouri

In Missouri, our legislators made us proud on April 27, when they rejected SJR 39, the so-called “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people based on religion. We thank the Missouri businesses and chambers of commerce that spoke out against this discriminatory bill and we thank the Emerging Issues Committee of the state House of Representatives who voted against it. Because of the committee’s 6-6 tie vote on the proposed constitutional amendment, it could not advance to a vote by the full House of Representatives, even though it had previously passed in the Senate. The committee members who voted against it were Democratic representatives Jeremy LaFaver, Mike Colona and Sharon Pace, and Republican representatives Jim Hansen, Caleb Rowden and Anne Zerr.