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WHEREAS, during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer + Pride Month, the Commonwealth of Virginia joins the nation in celebrating LGBTQ+ individuals, acknowledging their contributions to our communities, and renewing our commitment to building a welcoming and inclusive Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, between 1970 and early 2000, LGBTQ+ campaigns, protests, and organizations played a pivotal role in combating negative representations of LGBTQ+ people, supported liberation movements that empowered individuals to come out to their friends, family, and colleagues, and advocated for HIV/AIDS funding, legislation, and equal access to health care; and
WHEREAS, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia Values Act was signed into law on April 11, 2020, making Virginia the first state in the South to enact comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ plaintiffs who lost their jobs due to discrimination fought their cases in court, which ultimately led to another victory in which the United States Supreme Court, on June 15, 2020, ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and
WHEREAS, in 2021, Virginia once again made history, becoming the first state in the South to ban the LGBTQ+ “panic defense,” and enacted legislation ensuring equal access to aging services for LGBTQ+ older adults, repealing the law that makes it a crime for people living with HIV to donate blood and organs, and removing barriers for unmarried LGBTQ+ couples who want to adopt; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth also created a new advisory board that will ensure the LGBTQ+ community has a permanent voice in Virginia’s executive branch, no matter who is governor; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ Virginians have shown tremendous resilience, determination, and purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, as diversity centers and LGBTQ+ organizations used their facilities as testing sites and vaccination clinics, supporting the Commonwealth’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ organizations and allies have expressed their concerns for community members who disproportionally face discrimination and have called on law makers and the public to do more to protect black transgender women, support LGBTQ+ immigrants, individuals who identity as non-binary, older adults, and LGBTQ+ students; and
WHEREAS, we will always remember the LGBTQ+ individuals—particularly those in the transgender community—who lost their lives to senseless violence, the activists who died fighting for equal rights, as well as the countless stories that have not yet been told; and
WHEREAS, we stand with the LGBTQ+ community in reaffirming that Virginia is a place where we celebrate diversity and intersectionality, where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated with respect and dignity;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize June 2021 as LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, AND QUEER + PRIDE MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.