Beyond Pride: Reflecting on Our Past, Advocating for A Better Future

by Kelley Robinson

Throughout this Pride Month, we have come together to celebrate the remarkable resilience, beauty, and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. We marched and danced in the streets, from Muscatine, Iowa — where my ancestors were the first free Black family — to San Francisco, New York, and countless small towns and big cities in between. In the days ahead, we will also mark the anniversary of three landmark Supreme Court cases that laid the groundwork and built upon one another to expand equal rights for our LGBTQ+ community.

Marriage equality supporters rally on the steps of the Supreme Court as they wait for a decision Friday, June 26, 2015 in Washington. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)

June 26 marks the ninth anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that granted same-sex couples the right to marry across the United States. June 26 is also the 11th anniversary of the historic United States v. Windsor decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, and the 21st anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a Texas law criminalizing same-sex sexual intimacy and invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states.

The road to these victories was long, spanning decades of United States history. Throughout the extensive fight to expand equal rights for LGBTQ+ folks, HRC was at the forefront.

We showed up.

We worked in coalitions. We rallied for support at the local, state, and federal levels. We launched TV and print ads. We secured mainstream media coverage. We trained and deployed volunteers nationwide to help change hearts and minds. And we unleashed a social media firestorm to secure support for equality in the court of public opinion.

We showed up and we continue to show up until every last one of us is fully free and liberated – without exception and with no one left behind.

While we celebrate the anniversaries of these important gains for our community, we are reminded that Pride Month is more than just a celebration; it is a call to action, a time to reflect on how far we've come, and a testament to the work that still lies ahead."

Kelley J. Robinson

The Supreme Court has shifted heavily to the right in recent years. Their rulings have made it clear: they’re not just undoing progress from the last decade or two. They’re reaching back a century to erase rights we thought were set in stone. This isn’t about small tweaks, it’s a massive rollback of basic rights and freedoms that affects us all.

The Court’s legacy of expanding freedom and equality for LGBTQ+ people has been questioned by many over and over in recent history: by allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on health care for transgender youth, by undermining non-discrimination laws for LGBTQ+ people and others in its 303 Creative ruling; and by overturning Roe v. Wade; among other reckless, dangerous and unprecedented decisions. These aren’t isolated incidents – they are a pattern of dangerous decisions that chip away at equality.

In this moment, we must be clear that this shift did not happen by accident. It's the result of Trump appointing judges who are openly hostile to LGBTQ+ rights. Now, these justices have lifetime seats on the highest court in the land, giving them the power to unravel decades of progress.

The message is clear: Our hard-won freedoms are under threat, and we can't take them for granted. Every Supreme Court decision matters because each one could be another step backward for equality.

The choice about where we go from this moment forward has never been clearer. We cannot go backward. We must move boldly forward. We must ensure that while celebrating Pride and the anniversaries of our hard-fought gains, we stay focused on the battles ahead.

There’s no mistaking that we’re up against tremendous challenges. And we are not without hope, and we are certainly not without power.

The question isn’t whether or not we can win. The question in front of us is: Will you show up?

We show up to harness the power of our community and make our voices heard.

We show up to change hearts and minds.

We show up to protect LGBTQ+ youth and our community.

We show up to reject bullies and hate.

We show up to defend our right to love whom we love.

We show up to elect leaders who support laws that protect our community.

We show up to keep staunch allies in securing major wins.

When we show up, equality wins.

Join us.

How will you SHOW UP?

It all starts now, with you. Take the pledge, and let's win this together.