Pride month: Biden calls for action in LGBTQI+ proclamation
WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden is calling for equality in his latest proclamation, declaring June 2022 as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month."
Biden signed the proclamation Tuesday.
‘Today, the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans are under relentless attack," the president stated. "Members of the LGBTQI+ community — especially people of color and trans people — continue to face discrimination and cruel, persistent efforts to undermine their human rights."
Biden also warned that multiple states have introduced what he called "dangerous anti-LGBTQI+ legislation."
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in March that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has drawn intense national scrutiny from critics who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 26: Laverne Cox celebrates A Very Barbie Birthday at Magic Hour at Moxy Times Square on May 26, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Laverne Cox )
"These unconscionable attacks have left countless LGBTQI+ families in fear and pain," Biden continued.
The president outlined steps he has taken to affirm the LGBTQI+ community.
"I signed a landmark Executive Order charging the Federal Government with preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," he said. "This includes non‑discrimination protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in housing, health care, education, employment, credit and lending services, and the criminal justice system. My Administration has expanded access to inclusive passports for transgender Americans and instituted reforms to the traveler screening process at United States airports."
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Biden said the work isn’t done as he calls on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will extend civil rights protections to the LGBTQI+ community.
"We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights," he added.
How did Pride Month start?
Pride Month, which is now celebrated by LGBTQI+ communities and allies all over the world, stems from the tragedy of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969.
The Stonewall Inn in New York City is now a landmark and part of the Stonewall National Monument, but in 1969, it was part of a gay scene that was known, yet not open. At the time, showing same-sex affection or dressing in a way deemed gender-inappropriate could get people arrested, and bars had lost liquor licenses for serving LGBTQ customers.
The police raid on the bar began early the morning of June 28, 1969. The nightspot was unlicensed, and the officers had been assigned to stop any illegal alcohol sales.
Patrons and people who converged on the bar on Christopher Street resisted, hurling objects and at times scuffling with the officers.
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Protests followed over several more days. A year later, LGBTQ New Yorkers marked the anniversary of the riot with the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. Thousands proudly paraded through a city where, at the time, LGBTQ people were largely expected to stay in the shadows.
A march to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, New York City, USA, 26th June 1994. The banner reads 'The 1994 International March on the United Nations to Affirm the Human Rights of Lesbian and Gay People'. (Photo by Barbara Alpe
On June 11, 1999, former President Bill Clinton signed an executive order proclaiming June as "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month."
On June 1, 2009, former President Barack Obama issued a proclamation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
In 2019, former President Donald Trump recognized Pride Month for the first time during his presidency.
Biden echoed some of his predecessors when he signed a proclamation recognizing June 2021 as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month."
What is the meaning of the LGBTQ pride rainbow flag?
Gilbert Baker was the creator of the rainbow flag that has become a widely recognized symbol of gay rights. He died in April 2017 at the age of 65.
According to Baker’s website, he taught himself to sew and began making banners for gay and anti-war marches, creating the rainbow flag in 1978.
According to Britannica, he adopted eight colors for the stripes, each color with its own meaning (hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit).
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In a previous interview, Jones recalled the rainbow flag’s first appearance at the 1978 gay pride parade.
"It was quite amazing to stand there and watch all these thousands of people turn off Market Street into San Francisco Civic Center Plaza and march beneath these giant flags that were flapping in the wind," Jones said. "People looked up and faces lit up and, without any explanation, this was now our flag."
The flag was initially eight colors, but it was cut to six because of the limited availability of fabrics, Jones said. He said Baker rejected advice to patent the rainbow flag design and never made a penny off it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.