The theme of Capital Pride 2022 this year is reUNITED, and it’s fitting: I’m excited to be reunited with my local queer community and celebrating our beauty, power and resilience at the first pride parade in Washington, D.C., since the pandemic began. But I’m also furious at politicians and courts chipping away at our rights and attacking LGBTQ+ youth in particular. Pride Month is an important moment for both joyful celebration and recommitting ourselves to the fight for equality for all.
One of the reasons I’m proud to work at Americans United is our commitment to building a world where all people are able to live as ourselves. Christian nationalists seek to deny LGBTQ+ people our rights, our dignity and our very existence. AU fights back every day to ensure that no person faces discrimination because of someone else’s religious beliefs.
Separation of church and state ensures that religion can’t be used to deny civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people. But religious extremists and their lawmaker allies are attempting to misuse religious freedom through religious exemptions that undermine access to health care, social services, businesses, workplace protections, public education and more.
Across the country, laws are being passed that target LGBTQ+ people, particularly queer and trans youth. At the local and state levels, we’ve seen more and more policies that censor LGBTQ+ authors and topics; laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill designed to silence and harm LGBTQ+ students, teachers and their families; and legislation that cruelly targets transgender youth by denying access to life-saving health care, participation in sports, access to resources in schools that align with their gender and the ability to simply live as themselves. These efforts go hand in hand with racist policies that similarly suppress teaching on racism and efforts to address racial inequity, compounding harm for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is poised to chip away at LGBTQ+ rights as well. Last month’s leaked Supreme Court opinion not only reveals that the court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion, but also points to their willingness to change precedent and erode the bodily autonomy and equal rights of all people, including LGBTQ+ people. Next term, the court will hear the case of a web designer in Colorado who seeks to discriminate against queer couples.
In the face of so much hate, LGBTQ+ advocates and our allies continue to fight to ensure everyone is able to live openly without fear of discrimination. Activists across the country are pushing back against all the hateful policies I’ve described, and at the national level we’re fighting for the Equality Act, which will expand comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas of life for LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, and the nonreligious, among others.
Join us in speaking up for LGBTQ+ rights this month and every month.
If you’re in the D.C. area, look for Americans United at the Capital Pride Festival this Sunday, June 12. You might also see our chapters at other pride events this month; check out our Events page to see what AU is up to in communities across the country!