On June 30th, as the world gathers in New York where the modern LGBTQ liberation movement began on a hot summer night in 1969, we march in Atlanta to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
As we reach this milestone, we reflect on how far we’ve come. My election last year was only possible because of the activists that rose up at Stonewall and each of the LGBTQ leaders who have come after––Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, Karla Drenner and Cathy Woolard, Edith Windsor and Jim Obergefell, Stephe Koontz, and many, many others.
With social acceptance for LGBTQ Americans at an all-time high, it would be easy to feel a sense that we’ve come a long way. But the truth is, when it comes to legislative protections, we don’t have a lot to show for the past half century––not at the federal level and certainly not here in Georgia.
Other than the national hate crimes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity passed in 2009, every legal right LGBTQ Americans have achieved has come through court intervention. Considering how political the U.S. Supreme Court has become, we dare not proclaim victory yet.
LGBTQ Georgians lack basic protections against discrimination in the workplace or public places. Transgender Georgians of color in particular face extreme violence just for being themselves. Our youth suffer epidemic levels of homelessness and suicide as they face rejection and abuse from their parents, clergy, and school-aged peers. We dare not proclaim victory yet.
Despite the great progress we’ve made in Georgia in terms of social acceptance, we still lack basic legislation that protects the LGBTQ community. Lest we forget, Georgia still has a constitutional amendment on the books that bans same-sex marriage. We dare not proclaim victory yet.
I am proud to belong to the LGBTQ community and have the privilege to advocate on their behalf at the state level. While the battle for equality has proven long, slow, and imperfect, the urgent need for basic legal protections in our state propels me to keep fighting. With your help, I promise not to rest until we achieve true freedom and basic dignity for every Georgian.
Today, as we celebrate the movement built by the patrons of Stonewall 50 years ago, let us dedicate ourselves to the work yet to be done.