WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, issued the following statement recognizing June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Among the many events around the state and region, Capital Pride (DC) takes place June 7-10. Baltimore Pride 2018 will be June 15-17. Frederick Pride is June 23. LGBT Pride Night at Camden Yards is June 27. In addition, Cumberland Pride Festival will be July 11-15 and the Hagerstown Pride Festival will be July 14.
“Every June, we recognize Pride month across this country to celebrate LGBT Americans. We commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969 and all of the struggle and progress that has come since then. At Stonewall, police raids targeted at the LGBT community sparked riots in which people of all genders and backgrounds showed the resilience, diversity and strength of their community. The transformation of this moment of conflict and pain into a celebration of pride is a lesson for all communities that courage and conviction are demanded in the face of adversity.
“During Pride month and throughout the year, we embrace the certainty that love is love and you should never have to hide your true self. LGBT individuals are our neighbors, our parents and our children. They come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions. They have shown leadership from city halls to battlefields, from courtrooms to classrooms, and everywhere in between. These United States of America have been made great by their accomplishments big and small.
“In spite of victories in Windsor and Obergefell affirming a constitutional right to marriage regardless of sexual orientation, there is still much to be accomplished. The current administration continues its quest to curry favor with extreme conservatives by banning patriotic, transgender Americans from serving in the military and it has removed LGBT-focused content from federal websites. These actions concern me deeply and should disturb all those who support the free flow of information, as well as the belief that anyone able and willing to serve in uniform should have that opportunity.
“Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Despite this victory for one individual, this was not a defeat for the cause of equality. Justice Kennedy maintained that ‘gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.’ We should seize this moment as an opportunity to fight harder for equality and fairness everywhere.
“In order to guarantee protection for LGBT civil rights, I have joined nearly half of my fellow senators in sponsoring the Equality Act (S. 1006). This federal legislation would rightfully define sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes alongside race, religion, age, and sex. LGBT Americans finally would have improved protections against discrimination in employment, housing, accommodations and other sectors. Although Maryland has had statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2001 and gender identity since 2014, other states continue to lag behind. The Equality Act is an imperative measure to fill this gap.
“Our nation was founded on the twin ideals of equality and liberty. For 242 years, Americans have moved closer to making those ideals reality, not just for some, but for all. We aren’t there yet. For these values to prove true, all love must be treated with equal worth.
“We must be free to love whomever we love, without fear of discrimination or bias. My hope is that we can come together to use Pride Month 2018 to celebrate the progress that has been made for LGBT rights and to continue the fight for real equality and liberty.”