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WHEREAS, during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month, the Commonwealth of Virginia joins the nation in celebrating LGBTQ+ Americans, acknowledging their contributions to our communities, and understanding their struggle, and we acknowledge that we must do more to create a more open and welcoming 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 healthcare; and
WHEREAS, members of Virginia’s LGBTQ+ communities fought for marriage equality, and 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, on April 11, 2020, the Virginia Values Act was signed, 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, additional legislation signed during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Session includes protections for transgender students in public schools, banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors, making it easier for LGBTQ+ individuals to obtain a birth certificate that matches their identity, and updating Virginia’s hate crimes law to protect LGBTQ+ people; 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 sex; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ oral history, walking tours, and archiving projects conducted in several Virginia regions connect younger generations to first-hand accounts of LGBTQ+ community records, as well as accounts of activism and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people of color; and
WHEREAS, we will always remember and cherish the names of LGBTQ+ individuals – those of the transgender community who lost their lives to senseless violence, leaders and friends who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, icons lost to COVID-19, activists who died fighting for equal rights, as well as the countless number of those whose lives and stories have not yet been told;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize June 2020 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.