Last June, our community celebrated a landmark victory when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry. You, no doubt, remember that moment filled with joy and—perhaps on some level—disbelief. Yet in that moment we also knew that new and different legal threats would continue to emerge in our movement for full equality.
Two weeks ago in the Washington State Legislature, 24 senators voted to repeal the state’s 10-year-old anti-discrimination law, and prohibit transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity. Even more alarming—the bill was only defeated by a single vote.
Over the past five months, our community has also mounted a defense of Anchorage’s recently passed non-discrimination ordinance. This was the first ordinance of its kind in Alaska. In a place without any statewide protections, these city-level ordinances are the only protections that prevent LGBTQ people from being discriminated against in public places, housing, and at work.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. They are part of a broader backlash gaining traction across our region and our country.
As of now, over 150 laws and regulations have been introduced in state legislatures across the country targeting the LGBTQ community. They are intentional, calculated, and deliberate—and derive from well-organized and well-funded groups. Our opponents are using harmful religious rhetoric and fear to roll back the progress we’ve made for LGBTQ people to be recognized in our fullest humanity.
These developments are unquestionably frightening and dangerous, and understanding this backlash within the broader context is critical at this moment. In these instances, we are seeing the next phase of our movement unfolding, and it will require new and distinct responses.
Our success depends on working together to uplift those most vulnerable to discrimination and violence in our communities.
Washington Safety & Access For Everyone (SAFE) Alliance was formed with this intention. Organizations and individuals across the state have come together to form a coalition positioned to defend against attacks that target transgender people. The collaborative efforts of those involved with the SAFE Alliance are why that senate bill was defeated, but the narrow margin by which we did so illustrates how crucial it is for us to continue working together in this moment.
Today, we know that both our hope and our success stem from the fundamental interconnectedness of the many movements for social justice and social change. It’s why Pride Foundation is prioritizing investing in innovative strategies that build bridges between movements for gender equity, racial justice, reproductive justice, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, and criminal justice reform.
The resilience of our communities will be the most effective tool for creating a world in which everyone can live safely, openly, and genuinely. And this resilience, coupled with real connection—people working together toward a common vision—will be the most powerful tool of all.
Kris is Pride Foundation’s Executive Director. Email Kris.
Read the additional articles from our February eNews: