Rep. Kinkead: ‘Get Loud, Be Proud’
Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead
Over the last several decades, the LGBTQIA+ rights movement has made incredible progress in the United States and around the world—in-part thanks to the visibility, awareness, and political activism that occurs annually during this month of Pride across our nation.
Pride Month provides a time and space for our LGBTQIA+ friends and neighbors to be proudly and authentically themselves. However, this space is relatively new—and the story of how Pride came to be emphasizes just how far we’ve come on the extensive road to creating a truly equal society.
On the early morning of June 28, 1969, several hours before the crack of dawn, NYPD officers dressed in street clothes raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. While police raids on gay spaces were common during this era, this raid was unique: the patrons of the bar, led by trans women Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, had grown tired of being harassed and fought back in response, drawing a large crowd of protesters outside the bar, as police were using excessive force to arrest people for the then-crime of being gay, trans, or cross-dressing. The officers on the scene then barricaded themselves inside the bar, as the mob outside grew in size and intensity. All of this took place before 4 a.m.
News of the resistance to the raid spread quickly throughout the city. Later that same day, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Stonewall Inn, sparking a series of passionate protests, known as the Stonewall Uprising, against the abuse and mistreatment of gay communities over the following days. One year later, on June 28, 1970, what would be known as our nation’s first Pride march was held to commemorate the events at Stonewall, eventually becoming the month of LGBTQIA+ Pride that Americans now celebrate every June.
In the more than 50 years since Stonewall, meaningful victories have been achieved in the quest to secure equality:
- 1973: The American Psychiatric Association officially declassified homosexuality as a mental illness.
- 1982: Wisconsin became the first U.S. state to ban discrimination against people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
- 1993: The U.S. military instituted its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, prohibiting prospective and current service members from being questioned about their sexual orientation.
- 1993: The Hawaii Supreme Court found the state’s denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples to be discriminatory, which triggered the enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman and allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriage.
- 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws criminalizing sexual conduct between people of the same sex are unconstitutional, immediately invalidating dozens of laws throughout the country.
- 2004: Massachusetts became the first state to perform legal same-sex marriage.
- 2009: President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, officially designating crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual preferences or gender identity as hate crimes.
- 2010: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, permitting gay and lesbian individuals to openly serve in the U.S. military.
- 2011: President Obama indicated that his administration would not enforce the DOMA.
- 2013: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the provisions of DOMA that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
- 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
- 2021: The Equality Act, which would prohibit gender discrimination in additional areas including public facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
While these are enormous milestones, the fight for equality for the LGBTQIA+ community is far from over. In fact, Republicans in the Pennsylvania state legislature, and in many other states, recently pushed hateful legislation that sought to further ostracize trans women and girls by restricting them from playing scholastic and collegiate sports. I was proud to stand with my Democratic colleagues to speak out and vote against the bill, but I am deeply troubled by the fact that elected lawmakers in any state would even consider such a heinous law. Nationally, laws that attack our LGBTQIA+ community are only spreading.
Tragically, LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially transgender youth, face higher rates of depression, suicide, and threats of violence. And while it is imperative that, as a society, we do everything in our power to change this unacceptable reality in our world, laws that attack our LGBTQIA+ friends and neighbors move us in the wrong direction and actually cost lives.
To counter this, I am working with my fellow LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus members to pursue trans-affirming legislation, like the six bills in our “Name-Change” package, that would create a safer and easier name-change process for trans Pennsylvanians. I am also a proud co-sponsor of Pennsylvania’s Fairness Act, which would prohibit discrimination against any Pennsylvanian based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Additionally, I am calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act and secure additional, necessary protections against anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination.
During this Pride Month, I want to tell all of the LGBTQIA+ folks in District 20 and across our commonwealth that I love you and support you and will continue to fight for you every day. I encourage you all to express yourselves openly and honestly—and, perhaps most importantly, get loud about the change you want to see. Further progress requires action from elected officials at all levels of government, but it will not happen unless we all get loud and proud for our LGBTQIA+ community.
As always, if you have any questions or need help with any state-related matter, I am here to help. Just call 412-321-5523 or email RepKinkead@pahouse.net.