In recent years, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals did not have a specific month during which to celebrate and commemorate Pride Days in the United States.
On June 11, 1999 President Clinton issued a proclamation designating June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. In the spirit of honoring equality and freedom, the president said, "I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life."
The most significant June event in GLBT history was the Stonewall Inn Rebellion, a three-day protest in 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village during which patrons protested against unfair police discrimination and harassment. It marked the first time the gay community joined together to fight for its civil rights, earning national attention and gaining a foothold in the struggle for equality. The month of June is dedicated to appreciating the contributions and significance of the GLBT community, and applauding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and transgender pride.
There have been several significant civil rights events in recent years on the national and local level that have supported LGBTQI communities.
Nationally, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Obergefell, Et. Al v Hodges case decided on June 26, 2015, found the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.
The Obergefell Et. Al v Hodges ruling comes as a long-awaited bookend to the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act requiring the U.S. government to provide the same benefits to both gay and heterosexual persons in the military.
Locally, in June of 2014, four couples were married at a ceremony in St. Louis Mayor Slay’s office. This act, and them suing the State of Missouri, set the stage for a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that allowed gays to legally marry in the City of St. Louis.
More recently, communities and school districts throughout the country have been challenged to address the civil rights of Transgender individuals. President Obama’s administration announced new guidance in May that allows transgender students to use the bathrooms in U.S. public schools associated with their gender identity.
The Obama Administration sent a letter through the Departments of Education and Justice, to schools nationwide that mandates the institutions create bathroom policies that support transgender students. The guidelines are meant to ensure that "transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment," the Obama administration said.
Even with all the activity, we have the following:
- 14% of all hate crimes reported in the United States are committed against the LGBT population demographic.
- 21%: That’s the percentage of LGBT employees who report having been discriminated against in hiring, promotions and pay.
- Termination of an employee based on sexual orientation remains legal in 31 American states.
- Termination of an employee based on gender identity remains legal in 39 American states.
Based on the numbers, we still have a long way to go before the civil rights of those who are LGBT are protected.