Happy Pride Month!
By Kyla Bender-Baird
Every year, LGBT folk around the world come together to celebrate their queerness for Pride month--June. Along with the parties, festivals, parades, and even an occasional social justice march, Pride offers our community an opportunity to reevaluate where we are headed as movement (or even question whether there is one movement or several). Late last week, President Obama issued his annual Proclamation for LGBT Pride month. In it he says,
This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.
Obama also plays up the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the renewal of the Ryan White CARE Act. Obama also reiterated his commitment to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," although most advocacy groups current doubt his follow-through and want assurance that discharges will be stopped immediately.
While all this is good and fine, I was disheartened to see no mention of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act in the President's Proclamation. This very basic bill would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, ENDA failed to come before Congress for a vote this session. Alex Blaze of The Bilerico Project offers an interesting analysis of this (hopefully temporary) setback:
Labor has been locked out of Washington even with the Democrats holding the House, the Senate, and the White House. Their main objective for this session - the Employee Free Choice Act - hasn't even been brought to the floor of the House. The stimulus bill in 2009 was half the size of what it needed to be, and while bailouts and war supplementals pass Congress easily, getting more stimulus money has been like squeezing blood out of a rock.
I hope others will join me this Pride season not only on the dance floor but also in the movement to extend basic protections to LGBT communities across the United States. Perhaps we can also engage in a little strategic thinking on what that should look like and how we can get there.