Sacramento Bee: Is LGBT community moving forward or falling back?

June 23, 2017

BY Angela Hart

State Sen. Scott Wiener will be in San Francisco’s LGBT Pride parade this Sunday with a message: “We must gather our strength for the battle ahead.”

Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said under President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, he considers the rights of LGBT people under direct attack.

“We’ve seen it before in this country. In the 1970s, we were starting to make some progress, then there was terrible backlash in the 1980s and we lost ground,” Wiener said. “I’m concerned that we are experiencing that backlash again. I’m concerned we’ll start losing ground with what the Supreme Court might do around marriage equality and also around so-called religious freedom as a pretext to discriminate.”

Wiener is part of a group of California lawmakers planning to participate in this weekend’s San Francisco Pride festivities. The city will be filled with what could amount to hundreds of thousands of people – more than 125,000 are expected to participate in Sunday’s parade alone, according to organizers. Wiener said this year is a chance for one of the largest gatherings of LGBT people to send a message to the country.

“It’s a time for us to celebrate the strength and richness of our community, while also recommitting ourselves to fight for true equality and justice,” Wiener said. “You can still be fired in many states for being LGBT. You can still be evicted in many states for being we are seeing attacks in state legislatures and by the federal administration.”

He mentioned laws to restrict restroom access for transgender people, increases in LGBT hate crimes and the apparent pullback of a Census Bureau proposal earlier this year to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2020 Census questionnaire. Following criticism from gay and transgender rights advocates, Census Bureau Director John Thompsonpenned a response in late March saying “inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity” occurred “due to an error in the appendix of the report.”

“The history of the LGBT community is a history of fighting against this. For many many years we were largely invisible and expected to remain in the closet, and there was a risk of physical violence and death if you came out,” Wiener said. “We are facing an administration that is trying to make us invisible.”

The parade kicks off Sunday at 10:30 a.m. A “resistance contingent” will lead 25,000 people expected to march down Market Street. Organizers are expecting up to 100,000 spectators. Other Bay Area lawmakers expected to participate include Assemblymen Evan Low, D-Campbell, David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, and Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

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