Pride season is upon us, and now more than ever we have reason to celebrate our pride in our families, our allies, our communities and ourselves. Today more than ever, there are many tremendous opportunities for us to advance equality, and we’ve seen equality moving forward in America at a faster pace. PFLAG remains on the front lines of this momentum, supporting families, educating communities and advocating for full equality in every region of the country.
While PFLAG may be best known for our participation in hundreds of Pride parades every year, we are so much more than supportive parents and family members. We are the only national organization that brings together straight and LGBT people in a common voice at the grassroots local level in hundreds of communities across America, to support families, educate communities and advocate for LGBT equality. Of course, for most of our chapters, it is during Pride season that our work shines most brightly.
As our hundreds of PFLAG chapters across the nation gear up to participate in their Pride parades and community celebrations, all of us at PFLAG reflect on the victories our community has achieved in a short time span. Within the last thirty days since our May Update, Maine has become the fifth state in the union to extend marriage equality to lesbian and gay couples, with New Hampshire and New York showing potential to join these states. Last month the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. A version of the bill has been introduced in the Senate, and we are hopeful that this year we will see federal hate crimes legislation that protects LGBT people become a reality.
Unfortunately our community has seen some setbacks as well. Only last summer the California Supreme Court ruled that our lesbian and gay family members have the right to marriage equality. Later that year Proposition 8 ended that dream – and also held roughly 18,000 marriages in legal limbo. While the Court sadly ruled this month to uphold the legality of Prop. 8, it did rule that those who were married last year must remain legally recognized. PFLAG and our allies will continue to push for full marriage equality in California – and in all states.
This month PFLAG members everywhere have a chance to have fun celebrating our achievements and Pride, as well as displaying all of the amazing hard work we do every day for equality! Here are some of the other activities PFLAG and our chapter members have been actively involved with:
- PFLAG National announced this year’s scholarship winners. PFLAG is now in our 6th year of awarding the scholarships. More than $30,000 will go to students across the country who have made significant contributions to equality in their schools and communities. Click here to read more about the wonderful young LGBT people and straight allies who are poised to become the leaders of tomorrow.
- I had the pleasure of visiting several chapters this month, including a special visit to the heartland. In meeting with our Omaha, Nebraska chapter, I was able to share my story, listen to those of others, and even attended a special gay prom for LGBT youth. PFLAG Omaha is a shining example of the power of PFLAG, changing hearts and minds, empowering families and strengthening communities.
- PFLAG families spoke out against discrimination in New York. PFLAG National Board member Dale Bernstein and her husband, Gary, of Ghent, New York, attended a rally of thousands, including PFLAGers from across the state, to support marriage equality in the Empire State. PFLAG families like the Bernsteins stress that they want all of their children to have the same rights, privileges and safety as every other American.
- Our Maryland and Pennsylvania chapter members marched for equality. In what PFLAG Baltimore County President Mark Patro called “a powerful collective display of regional representation for PFLAG members,” PFLAGers from both states brought the unique PFLAG voice to the National March for Equality that was held in Philadelphia.
Please consider making a special donation this month to support our work. Your support and advocacy are making real changes for all of our families. As we celebrate this month, we also vow to continue our important work to move equality forward!
Thank you for all of your support, and Happy Pride!
Jody M. Huckaby