By: Jen Beehler
June 27, 1969—Greenwich Village, NYC
On this pivotal date in history, a determined group of homosexuals stood up to the tyrannical raids of the New York City police force, and in doing so, ignited the first battle for gay rights.
Cleveland Pride Parade & Festival Committee has chosen to remember this momentous event, reflected in its Equality Through Unity theme for 2009. Reminiscing on the past 40 years of gay rights activism enables us to quantify how far the LBGTQ community has come in its struggle for acceptance and equality.
Equality through Unity is a reflection of our society—we understand that we are in the midst of difficult times, and if we unify, we can change the tide. We can all fight but it is only when we stand up together that the battle is won. Cleveland Pride hopes to reunite all branches of the LGBTQ population in Northeast Ohio so that we may become a commanding force in our city, state and country.
Many significant events have occurred the past years that have resulted in high visibility for the gay community.
On February 11, 2004 Mayor Gavin Newsom declared that allowing certain San Franciscans to marry and not others was unacceptable and begin issuing marriage licenses to all.
On May 17, 2004 Massachusetts declared their marriage laws to be interpreted to include everyone, making it the first state to marry and to acknowledge the marriages of homosexual partnerships.
On November 15, 2008, 300 supporters of LGBTQ rights stood at the Free Stamp park in downtown Cleveland in the pouring rain to join a worldwide protest to repeal the passage of Proposition 8 in California which denies homosexuals the right to marry.
On December 8, 2008, Cleveland’s city council passed the first domestic partnership registry. This measure allows LGBTQ and unmarried people to share insurance as domestic partners/spouses. This measure is not marriage and it is not equality, but it is the foundation that will anchor the call for civil liberties in Cleveland.
This is your call to action. Today is a new day—a day born out of the blood, sweat and tears of all those who came first. June 20, 2009 is a day to stand up and take what is rightfully ours. Execute your Constitutional right of Assembly and march through Cleveland, declaring our place in this country. Use your right of free speech to declare justice.
On June 20, 2009 we celebrate, we unite and we embark on a new wave of civil unity unprecedented in history.