Have Some Pride!
History, resources and more
This weekend, Albuquerque will roll out the rainbow crosswalk in time for a parade and other festivities to celebrate our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community. The colorful crosswalks marking this yearly event are located at Central and Morningside, along the annual Pride parade route, and serve as a reminder of the importance of this annual civic celebration.
In the 1950s and ’60s, openly gay people were not welcome in many places, even in big cities like New York. Archaic laws existed that criminalized homosexual behavior. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the mafia-owned Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Inn was a popular unlicensed bar where LGBTQ people could dance and socialize.
The raid sparked several days of violence between LGBTQ citizens and police officers. In the end, the raid set off a string of national events that led to the gay rights movement. Gay pride marches were held the following year in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to commemorate the riots. And every year since, more and more LGBTQ Pride events are held in dozens of cities across the country to celebrate the rich additions that our LGBTQ neighbors add to the fabric of our community. In 2016, the Stonewall National Monument was established at the site of the inn.
How do we compare to other states? According to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit that keeps track of and works on laws impacting LGBTQ citizens, New Mexico ranks in the top tier of states that show policy inclusivity. New Mexico is in good company with 18 other states including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, New York and other upper East Coast states. On the other hand, five states are actually ranked as having negative inclusivity policies, being in the heart of the old South, (Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia) plus South Dakota and Nebraska. The rest of the states are ranked in between, either low or medium in terms of overall policies regarding official views toward LGBTQ populations.
“New Mexico has better laws on the books than many other states, particularly when it comes to protections for same sex marriages and adoptions and discrimination against LGBTQ,” says Maureen Sanders, civil rights attorney and former University of New Mexico law professor. Sanders was one of the American Civil Liberties Union’s cooperating attorneys in the landmark 2013 lawsuit Griego v. Olivier filed by several same-sex couples asking the state for the constitutional right to marry. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could legally marry, making New Mexico the 17th state with full marriage equality.
Then in 2015, the US Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all 50 states. Yet, as of December 2018, eight counties in Alabama still refuse to issue any marriage licenses at all, just so they do not have to issue licenses to same-sex couples. And in Kentucky, due to the protests of several county clerks having their name on a marriage license for two people in love that wanted to marry, the state took the individual names of all its county clerks off its marriage licenses.
In October, 2018, a nationwide LGBTQ inclusion rating system done by the Human Rights Campaign gave Albuquerque a 74 out of a possible 100 points. The HRC is a LGBTQ civil rights organization that, among other things, examines 49 different pieces of criteria such as laws, policies, benefits and services that municipalities have in place to rank them. The New Mexico municipalities looked at in 2018 include Gallup, which ranked 35; Roswell and Rio Rancho at not much better at 42; Farmington at 45; Las Cruces came in at 47 and Santa Fe was scored at a healthier but still surprisingly low 65. New York City, for instance, ranked in at 100 and Sacramento racked up some extra credit and scored 104. Montgomery, Ala., came in at 17 points, with other municipalities scoring even lower.
An issue that Sanders sees could use some improvement is how people are treated every day, by their neighbors, bosses, coworkers and strangers in line at the grocery store. “In my view, the real continuing area of concern is how people are treated on a daily basis by the people in their communities. Yes, we have politicians and corporations marching in Pride parades once a year because it has become the cool thing to do. But are we as a community really treating each of our LGBTQ neighbors fairly and with dignity? That is something the laws can’t force, especially if discriminatory treatment is done with subtlety,” Sanders said.
Vigilant we must be, because subtle discriminatory treatment occurs at all levels of government, corporations and academia. Plus there are blatant discriminatory treatment examples everywhere recently, including current national Republican leaders chipping away at LGBTQ protections like transgender bathroom policies, and even the White House reinstituting bans on transgendere citizens from serving in the military, which reverses progress already made.
While doing research, it was refreshing to find many resources, support groups and policies in place by our local governments and nonprofits to protect the rights of all of our citizens. It is angering to see that in November 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 17 percent increase in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation.
Hate crimes are vastly underreported on all levels, and only about 5 percent of incidents show up in FBI data. This week a second transgender woman died while in US Border Patrol custody. We Burqueños were stunned last year with the double homicide of Carol Ray and Zakaria Fry, two transgender women who were murdered because of their sexual orientations.
Sanders says the hate is even more intense for our LGBTQ students as they navigate school hallways. “The bullying of LGBTQ students in our educational institutions occurs every day without adequate responses. We need to protect our children and stand up for them,” she said. Albuquerque Public Schools implemented safe zones for LGBTQ students. The school district also led the way for other schools to implement a respectful transgender bathroom policy.
There are many places to give some time and energy to the cause. Some include the University of New Mexico’s LGBTQ Resource Center, Common Bond and Equality New Mexico, which have volunteer opportunities to work with LGBTQ youth and adults. PFLAG Albuquerque is a social group that supports a healthy LGBTQ lifestyle.
“So don’t only just march in a parade once a year … work on fairness and dignity for all members of the LGBTQ community, 365 days a year,” Sanders challenges Burqueños and all Nuevo Mexicaños.