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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

2012 Gay Pride Parade, San Francisco, California / photo by Carol M. Highsmith

2012 Gay Pride Parade, San Francisco, California / photo by Carol M. Highsmith

Throughout the year, the Library of Congress provides information about a number of commemorative observances.  May is always a busy month with the Asian/Pacific American Heritage and Jewish American Heritage observances while in the Law Library we also observe Law Day.  In June we observe a more recently added commemorative observance for Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender Pride Month.

This month commemorates the events of June 1969 when an uprising was staged in New York City at the Stonewall Inn against the police harassment of LGBT persons.  The first time June was recognized as Gay and Lesbian Pride month was in 2000 when President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 7316.  In this proclamation, President Clinton recognized the prejudice and discrimination faced by gays and lesbians who “have had to hide or deny their sexual orientation in order to keep their jobs or to live safely in their communities” and the “prejudice against gays and lesbians can still erupt into acts of hatred and violence .”  To counter this, President Clinton called upon all Americans to observe the month of June “with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.”

In June 2009, President Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 8387 which designated June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.  President Obama recognized the seminal events of June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn which gave birth to the LGBT rights movement in America.  The proclamation further calls upon us to “commit to achieving equal justice under the law for LGBT Americans” and “to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”
Since 2009, President Obama has issued annual proclamations for the celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.  On May 30, 2014 he issued Presidential Proclamation 9136 in which the President called upon us to “celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”  This proclamation references the 2013 case heard by the United States Supreme Court, Windsor v. United States which struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage law as unconstitutional.  The proclamation ends with a call for greater tolerance: “Following their example, let each of us speak for tolerance, justice, and dignity—because if hearts and minds continue to change over time, laws will too.”

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