Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today issued the following statement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month:
“Each June, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month provides an opportunity to recognize the countless Americans who have worked to end the ongoing struggle against discrimination, and to pay tribute to the resilient spirit and significant contributions of LGBT Americans to our nation’s ideals of equality and freedom.
June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots in 1969, which prompted the birth of the gay rights movement.
As we celebrate the rich and diverse LGBT community this month, we not only recognize many notable achievements, but we are also reminded of the struggle to live and experience the American dream.
In the past 10 years since this month was first declared, the LGBT community has triumphed over tremendous challenges. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are now a Federal offense, and same-sex marriages are legal in 5 states and the District of Columbia. The LGBT community has also answered the call to service with over 600 openly LGBT appointed and elected officials in office today. While these landmark victories are remarkable, there is no doubt that much more still needs to be done.
My heart sank with the passage of Proposition 8, but the final verdict has not been rendered on this issue. As Californians come to know the 18,000 couples who were able to marry I believe that change will come.
The military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy is another important issue. Under this policy, over 13,000 men and women have been discharged from service. I have co-sponsored legislation and spoken on the floor because I believe that every American should have the opportunity to serve their country. Last month, both the House and the Senate Armed Service Committee approved an amendment to effectively end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” While this still has to make it through the Senate, I will support this every step of the way.
Great change is possible in our lifetimes; it can come quickly and easily or, as we’ve seen with many protections for LGBT individuals and families, over time with great struggles. Yet equal rights are closer now than ever. The LGBT community continues to march forward with determination and dignity. Though the journey is not finished we live in a country where extraordinary change is possible, and I know that perseverance will triumph over prejudice.”