WASHINGTON, D.C.— Every June, Pride Month represents a period of celebration for the diverse LGBTQIA+ communities throughout America, as well as a time to listen, learn, reflect and acknowledge the continued efforts to advance equality.
NOW stands with the LGBTQIA+ community, who struggle with oppressive laws that deny them employment protections, health care equity, public accommodation, and housing. Transgender individuals and transgender people of color, in particular, suffer at the hands of structural racism, violence, and systems that prevent access and equality.
This month, we celebrate by honoring the significant victories LGBTQIA+ activists have achieved, especially since the historic Stonewall Riots. We saw activism come out in full force during our 2020 elections, with a record number of LGBTQIA+ candidates winning their races in November, including the first highest-ranking transgender elected official. President Biden also started his first 100 days showing the country once again that representation matters. He nominated one of the most inclusive cabinets, including the first openly gay cabinet official, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and the first openly transgender federal official, Dr. Rachel Levine. While milestones such as these have catalyzed positive change for the LGBTQIA+ community, we know there is still much to be done.
LGBTQIA+ activism intensified during COVID-19, as the pandemic exposed fault lines of violence, inequality, and stigma. Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania are just three of 29 states where there remains a lack of state law for discrimination protection, leaving LGBTQIA+ people targets in critical areas of life, including housing, health care, and access to public spaces like restaurants and businesses. These fault lines were especially felt within the Black and brown trans communities, who often deal with violence and discrimination for being a part of the LGTBQIA+ community and a community of color. At least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people were murdered in 2020, and at least 27 have been murdered so far in 2021. The surge of anti-trans violence must be acknowledged by all levels within our society, especially law enforcement. Understanding the needs and fears of the transgender community must be a priority for our policymakers.
NOW will always prioritize defending the right to freedom and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We are committed to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas, which is why we strongly support the Equality Act, which would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQIA+ people across key areas of life, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. There is no excuse for any Senators to delay S.393 passage because protecting civil rights for all must be ensured.
Pride Month celebrates the courageous activism of LGBTQIA+ individuals while looking ahead to help accomplish the work that remains. We must rid the seeds of hate manifested in oppressive laws, the murder of transgender individuals, delayed bills, inequality in resources, and all manner of discrimination for every LGBTQIA+ individual. We all deserve to live freely, fairly, and happily.