Progress Towards Equality

By: Manny Crespin, 1st Vice Chair, DPBC

On June 28, 1969, in Manhattan, New York, LGBTQ+ allies stood strong against police brutality and protested for some of their most basic human rights. Members of the New York LGBTQ+ community and people of the Greenwich Village Neighborhood rioted in response to several violent police raids of the Stonewall Inn and other LGBTQ+ hangouts. The riots are widely considered to be one of the most important events leading to the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States and the entire world.

Fast forward nearly 51 years to Monday, June 15, 2020. In a 6 to 3 decision by the United States Supreme Court, it was ruled that the employers who terminate employees for being gay or transgender are, in fact, in violation of the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This ruling was regarding two cases involving two gay men, Gerald Bostock and Don Zarda, and transgender woman Aimee Stephens. Bostock and Zarda were terminated briefly after their employers had learned that they were gay. Stephens was terminated soon after she informed her employer that she planned to “live and work full-time as a woman.” Sadly, both Stephens and Zarda passed away before this judgment was handed down.

My partner and I are proud of this decision and see this as an affirmation that every single individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are wholly entitled to protection from employment discrimination and workplace harassment. I am grateful to my brothers and sisters in these cases. We also must remember and celebrate the memories of all the LGBTQ+ people and allies who fought for love and equality but are no longer with us. I am thankful for the legal teams, advocates, allies, and political leaders for their diligent work to assure that equality and fairness was achieved and that justice was served. The efforts made by the LGBTQ+ people of the Stonewall Riots and the plaintiffs in this case have laid the foundation for a happier and more just tomorrow. This landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court will have a far-reaching and positive impact on the lives of all LGBTQ+ people. We must continue to work to break down these systems of injustice so that our society can continue to further progress towards equality. As we navigate through these tough times, we must remember that a better and more just society is at our fingertips. If Stonewall or Gerald or Aimee or Don have taught us anything, it’s that if we persist with courage, determination, and pride, we will be victorious!