As Pride Month winds down, Felhaber Larson continues to strive each day to be an ally and to value and see all people in our community. As we continue the journey toward equality, we honor the hard and important work being done to advance LGBTQ+ rights, and we celebrate the incredible impact LGBTQ+ individuals and groups have had—and continue to have—in our communities.
As we reflect back on the progress of LGBTQ+ rights, much has happened since the watershed events of the Stonewall riots. In June 1969, following a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City, activists and community members gathered to protest mistreatment of LGBTQ+ community members. In the following years, supporters in cities around the world organized marches in June of each year to commemorate the Stonewall riots and to celebrate gay Pride, a term coined in the 1970s by Minnesota LGBTQ+ rights activist Thom Higgins. June is now recognized as Pride Month: a month to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community and to recognize all it has endured.
The progress of recognizing LGBTQ+ rights has been slow moving. It was not until 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law criminalizing sexual intimacy between same-sex couples. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2015, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that states must recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry. As Justice Kenney observed:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects lesbian, gay, and transgender employees from discrimination.
Much work remains, however. President Biden issued a proclamation earlier this month noting, in part:
For all of our progress, there are many States in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations, and other spaces. Our Nation continues to witness a tragic spike in violence against transgender women of color. LGBTQ+ individuals — especially youth who defy sex or gender norms — face bullying and harassment in educational settings and are at a disproportionate risk of self-harm and death by suicide. Some States have chosen to actively target transgender youth through discriminatory bills that defy our Nation’s values of inclusivity and freedom for all.
Our Nation also continues to face tragic levels of violence against transgender people, especially transgender women of color. And we are still haunted by tragedies such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Ending violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community demands our continued focus and diligence.
This Pride Month, Felhaber Larson celebrates by commemorating those who have worked to advance and achieve LGBTQ+ rights, acknowledging that hard work remains, and re-affirming its commitment to promoting an inclusive workplace and community.