Continuing Our March Forward

Hundreds of thousands of people from across Minnesota will gather this weekend for the Twin Cities Pride Festival. With a colorful parade, lively entertainment, and enthusiastic crowds, Pride’s spirit is one of celebration.

And there is plenty to celebrate. Our state has been a leader in the movement to advance the rights of the LGBTQ community. Minnesota passed the Minnesota Human Rights Act in 1993 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation — becoming the first state in the nation to pass a civil rights law protecting transgender people from discrimination. Almost 20 years later, we were the first state to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. We then voted to become the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage. That’s a lot of “firsts” in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and Minnesota should be proud.

While we have made great strides, the election of President Donald Trump injects uncertainty into the air of this year’s celebrations. His administration is determined to roll back our progress. One of his first moves as president was to end protections for transgender students. Then in May, he signed an executive order opening the doors for discrimination against LGBTQ Americans under the guise of “religious liberty.” He has even refused to acknowledge June as Pride Month, but somehow did find the time to recognize it as “National Home Ownership Month.”

In the face of efforts to move us backward, we need to continue marching forward. Too many LGBTQ Americans are denied the full equality they deserve. LGBTQ kids face bullying in schools, and far too many, feeling a loss of hope, tragically turn to suicide. Hate crimes, especially targeting transgender people, are rampant. LGBTQ voices remain vastly underrepresented in the halls of our state legislature and U.S. Capitol. There is still so much work to be done.

Pride Month is a time to recommit ourselves to the fight for global LGBTQ equality. The DFL stands in solidarity with our LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors. We will be watching, and we will challenge any effort to roll back our hard-fought victories. We will amplify the voices of our LGBTQ community. We will empower LGBTQ candidates, and we will engage LGBT Democrats at all levels of the party. We will fight tooth and nail until every Minnesotan can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in their community — but for now, Happy Pride!