June 9, 2015 — Former President Bill Clinton declared June Gay & Lesbian Pride Month in 2000. Pride Month has since evolved to include the celebration of bisexual and transgender people as well. This June we’re celebrating big wins for the LGBT community—and taking a look at what a difference 15 years makes!
The right to marry. Just weeks ago Ireland, which is 84% Catholic, became the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in its constitution by popular mandate. Same-sex couples have had the right to marry in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Canada for a decade or more and for nearly a decade in South Africa. They also have the right to marry in 17 other countries around the world, as well as in 37 of the United States and counting.
The right to be parents. In January 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex couples have the right to adopt a child. In 2010 a Florida court ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex adoption declared that “reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children.” Laws governing whether same-sex couples can adopt children together, adopt each other’s children, or retain custody of the offspring of previous opposite-sex unions vary by state and locality. But as of 2012, 110,000 children in the United States were living with gay parents, representing an 80.4% increase in same-sex households with children since 2000.
The right to serve in the military proudly and openly. In December 2010 President Obama signed legislation repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 17-year-old law which allowed LGBT people to serve provided they kept their sexuality a secret. “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie,” Mr. Obama said. Between 1993, when then President Bill Clinton enacted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and 2010, when President Obama ended it, 17,000 service members were discharged for refusing to conceal their sexual orientation.
More high-profile champions. Back in 1997, it was a big deal when comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out on the cover of Time magazine. Since DeGeneres’s life and career-changing revelation, former Olympic athlete and television personality Bruce Jenner has become Caitlyn Jenner, debuting her new self on the cover of Vanity Fair, transgender actor Laverne Cox has graced the cover of Time, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced he is “proud to be gay,” Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL, and Rachel Maddow became the first openly gay person in the United States to host a prime-time show.
Better representation in popular culture. From The Wire’s Omar Little to The Office’s Oscar Martinez to Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy and Mitch and Cam on Modern Family, LGBT characters have gotten more diverse and complex—though not necessarily more numerous—with each passing year.
There’s always more work to be done, but LGBT power is clearly on the rise—and as an organization committed to diversity and inclusion, Catalyst is thrilled. Happy Pride Month from our staff to the LGBT community and to allies around the world!