“Love is love and that cannot be denied or wished away.”
BALTIMORE – 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 at the conclusion of LGBT Pride Month 2020. Information on upcoming Maryland Pride events can be found at this link.
“Fifty-one years ago, on June 28, 1969, riots broke out as the Stonewall Inn was targeted in one of the many raids carried out against lesbian and gay bars and clubs. At the time, public displays of affection for same-sex couples were prohibited in many states and LGBTQ individuals began to gather at clubs and bars as a safe place of refuge. Police harassment was common. When the Stonewall Inn was targeted this time, hundreds of individuals formed a human barricade in and around the bar. Riots and call for justice for the LGBTQ community began to grow. Their brave activism helped jumpstart efforts for equality for the Pride community.
“For the last 50 years, June has been commemorated and openly celebrated as LGBTQ Pride Month. Sparked by the brave rebellion at Stonewall, it’s a time of awakening and opportunities, love and inspiration.
“Many years, like 2020, June is an affirmation that LGBTQ individuals have the same civil rights as their fellow Americans. On June 15 of this year, in a 6-3 decision (Bostock vs. Clayton County) one of the Supreme Court’s newest conservatives wrote in plain language how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It should not have taken the Supreme Court to say that a man or woman should not be fired due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. But, prior to this decision, in 28 states, millions of LGBTQ individuals had no legal recourse if fired for that simple reason. According to the National LGBTQ Workers Center, 25 percent of LGBTQ workers surveyed reported discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Among transgender individuals, 27 percent reported being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of their gender identity.
“Five years ago, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs. Hodges that same-sex couples could not be denied the right to marry. In what was another landmark decision, a majority of justices reaffirmed that “equal protection of the laws” means that same-sex couples must be treated equally as there heterosexual counterparts when it comes to civil marriage.
“June 26, 2013, in United States vs. Windsor, the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, opening the door for federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages and civil unions for the purposes of federal benefits and taxes. Ten years earlier, on June 26, 2003 brought the Lawrence vs. Texas ruling, which said that private activity between consenting adults could not be prohibited under the Constitution.
“For the record, not every court case has been decided in favor of LGBTQ rights and some Junes have been marked by senseless tragedy, most especially 2016, which saw the largest mass shooting of LGBTQ individuals on American soil at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando.
“Despite the setbacks, the irrational discrimination and the Trump administration’s relentless pursuit of anti-LGBTQ policies, Pride Month endures as a source of hope, unity and the fight for equality. Love is love and that cannot be denied or wished away.
“This year, as our country begins to slowly reopen and return to a sense of normalcy, many of the usual Pride festivals have been postponed until the Fall or next year for health reasons. Others, like Annapolis, will hold its annual Pride festival virtually.
“However and whenever we celebrate, we must continue to stand in solidarity, and protect the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of the LGBTQ community.
“As an ally and U.S. Senator, I am dedicated to standing up to the injustices around our state and in our country. I am a proud, original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would provide unequivocal non-discrimination protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, education, credit, jury service, federal program, as well as employment.
“The House of Representatives has already passed the Equality Act. It’s time the Senate did, too.
“As LGBT Pride Month 2020 officially draws to an end, the fight for equality continues. State-sanctioned discrimination must end. No one should ever be held back from living their life to the fullest because of who they are or whom they love.”