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June 16, 2020

The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law”. This ruling stems back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Until Monday June 15, 2020 it was legal in more than half of the states to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. This decision will extend workplace protections to millions of people across the nation. Fifty-Seven years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, LGBTQ persons are finally protected from being fired in the workplace!

As we recognize this momentous decision, let us reflect upon some of the milestones that helped finally secure this unalienable right. The modern LGBTQ rights movement officially began with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 though there were previous organizations and actions pushing for acceptance. These riots were the result of LGBT persons pushing back against police brutality and the harassment of gay people. Transgender women of color were prominent in this uprising. Just one year later the first Gay Pride Parade occurred in NYC in 1970. The route began at the Stonewall Inn, where the riots first began. Acceptance of equal treatment for LGBTQ persons has progressed significantly since that day, 57 years ago, to include marriage equality in 2015.

As this milestone is heralded, let us reflect on the state of the nation and the plight of African American people especially black men. People of Color have and continue to be victims of a society that is stacked against them. The systemic nature of racism continues throughout our nation. Unarmed black men and women continue to be killed by law enforcement officers and vigilante groups. Equal access to employment, housing and education is still lacking for many.

As we acknowledge the role of black transgender women in the LGBTQ movement, we all need to step up to counter the legacy of white privilege that has systematically kept people of color from achieving total equality in the workplace, in housing and education.

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