Statement in Celebration of Pride Month 2018

 Today, as we begin Pride Month, we celebrate the many triumphs that LGBTQIA Americans have made in the fight for justice and equality. Since the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, the movement for LGBTQIA rights has successfully fought to recognize the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression; resulting in the Stonewall Inn being preserved as a national monument for its historical and cultural significance.

We have seen great strides in this fight for justice as we ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies in the military, saw the Supreme Court declare marriage equality the law of the land, fought against bathroom bills that encourage bigotry, and expanded hate crimes protections. As a campaign aide under President Obama in 2012, I was proud to lead a national call with clergy that united these important voices around the need for marriage equality. As an Assembly Member, I am proud to have co-sponsored and voted on legislation that bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation as well as harmful conversion therapies.

The dangerous rhetoric and assault on LGBTQIA rights has created an environment in which too many members of our society live in fear and question their sense of agency in this nation. The dismantling of LGBTQIA human rights, their healthcare access and the rollback of federal protections for LGBTQIA workers has created deep division in our nation. The freedom to love shouldn’t be mandated or regulated by the federal or state government, but should be affirmed and upheld by strong policies that embrace the LGBTQIA community. As we make great strides in safeguarding civil rights for all, we remain vigilant in creating open, accepting and inclusive spaces in New York City and across the nation where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation can live comfortably without discrimination and contribute to our society.

This LGBT Pride Month, let us celebrate the many activist heroes who have fought to restore LGBTQIA rights including Audre Lorde, a heroic black lesbian feminist and poet; Martina Navratilova, one of the first openly gay athletes and tennis champions who increased awareness of the gay movement; Sylvia Rivera, a Stonewall activist who focused on intersectionality and fought for LGBTQ rights, queer people of color and queer low-income populations; and Bayard Rustin, who exceptionally helped lead and organize with other great leaders the March on Washington and was a civil rights legend who fought for freedom and justice for all.

Let us celebrate the rich diversity of the LGBTQIA community by welcoming any expression of love in this world, and affirming our stance as allies, activists and leaders in promoting a culture of acceptance and honor all individuals in this great nation with the right to pursue happiness and liberty.

 

Assembly Member Michael Blake