Schakowsky Statement Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month

June 19, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON, IL - Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, issued the following statement celebrating Pride Month and a 6-3 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court affirming that LGBTQ+ workers are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

“This month, I am proud to join my LGBTQ+ family, friends, colleagues, and constituents to celebrate the many hard-earned gains that have been made for equality in our nation and around the globe. We have come a long way in the last several years: from the passage of the Equality Act in the House last year, to same-sex marriage being legalized in twenty-nine countries, and now the Supreme Court holding that the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“This Pride Month, as our nation reckons with its long history of racism and police violence, we must remember that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights goes hand-in-hand with the fight for racial equality. On June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, the police rounded up and arrested LGBTQ patrons and forced them into police cars. Fed up with police harassing and brutalizing the gay community, other Stonewall Inn patrons started an uprising outside the bar. Among them were Marsha P. Johnson, a black drag queen and Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx drag queen, both pioneering activists who were key figures in resisting police violence that night, alongside other transgender and queer activists. The LGBTQ+ rights movement as we know it today was born out of these brave people resisting police mistreatment.

“This year would have marked the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Pride parade, and 51 years since the Stonewall riots. While we cannot march and gather this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can continue to celebrate our progress and our shared history in the LGBTQ+ community. I’m particularly proud of the role my district has in the LGBTQ+ community, with the Pride Parade stepping off just blocks from my Chicago District office, to the historic Andersonville neighborhood, and to being the home of so many historical institutions like the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, the Baton Show Lounge, the Test Positive Aware Network, and the Leather Archives and Museum.

“Despite our many advances, LGBTQ+ people, and disproportionately Black trans women, still face hatred, discrimination, violence, and police harassment and brutality around the country and globe. Over one-third of Black trans women who interact with law enforcement in the U.S. are assumed by police to be sex workers, leading to harassment, abuse, and mistreatment. Since 2013, about 111 out of at least 157 transgender and gender non-conforming victims of hate killings have been Black trans women. And just last week, we lost two Black trans women, Riah Milton and Dominique ‘Rem’Mie’ Fells, who were brutally murdered. They were the 13th and 14th trans women in the U.S. to be killed this year alone. And the violence extends to the transgender community overall, including right here in Chicago. Last month, Selena Reyes-Hernandez was killed by an 18 year old man who shot her in her home on the south side of Chicago. We will not forget them, and we will continue to seek justice, equality, and liberty on their behalf.

“This Pride Month we must also remember and celebrate Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda who passed away before seeing the outcome of their nearly decade long case that made it all the way to Supreme Court. Aimee, who was fired for being transgender, and Don, who was fired for being gay, fought relentlessly to ensure that LGBTQ+ people can go to work as themselves without fear of retaliation. This week, in perhaps the biggest LGBTQ+ case in U.S. history, the Supreme Court sided with Aimee and Don and held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination. Let this victory renew our hope and our drive to continue fighting for a world where everyone can live freely and authentically.

“My hope for our country this Pride Month is that we can reflect on the decades’ long fight for LGBTQ+ equality, learn from our mistakes, and look forward to righting the wrongs of our past. As a proud grandmother of a young trans man, and as your Representative in the U.S. House, I will continue fighting to ensure my grandson and all LGBTQ+ people inherit a world that embraces everyone regardless of sexuality, gender identity, race, or class. Love is love!”