The summer holidays are in full swing as rainbow flags mark the traditional Pride festivals across the world. As a community, we have so much to celebrate, including electing the first lesbian to the Idaho State Legislature, fostering new leadership and challenging Idahoans to confront political tactics that hurt all families with an educational campaign called "A Simple Matter of Equality." The ad campaign, which speaks to marriage equity under the law, continues to appear in newspapers statewide. And, we stand proud as a state of a civil-rights victory that will long grace history books-for the second consecutive year, Idaho lawmakers courageously defeated anti-gay amendments. Idahoans dedicated to human rights will celebrate these victories while commemorating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender heritage and culture at this year's Boise Pride celebration, June 5 through 12.
Pride can be traced back to one night in June of 1969 in New York City's Greenwich Village, where police officers routinely harassed gays and lesbians at the Stonewall bar. On this historic night, however, the gay and lesbian crowd challenged the violence and discrimination they faced. To mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Revolution, one year later, the first gay pride parade took place in New York City. This year heralds the 35th anniversary in cities like New York, San Francisco and Atlanta. Boise Pride will celebrate its 15th celebration.
This year's theme, "Live Out Proud," characterizes Idaho's ongoing challenge of anti-gay public policies. There are thousands of Idaho voters and taxpayers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We are working professionals with families, friends and co-workers who recognize us as valued individuals who deserve equality and justice under the law.
We know bad things happen when people are not treated fairly. Families are torn apart, people are abused and society suffers. Public policy dictates that thousands of Idahoans still have a long way to go before they can plainly say they have dismantled the oppression and negative feelings that impact our family, friends and neighbors who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
We will see the impact of this oppression again in next year's legislative session as right wing pundits fight to add their private opinions into our constitution by proposing an anti-gay marriage amendment. In over 200 years of American history, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 17 times since the Bill of Rights-and except for Prohibition, which was repealed, it has never been amended to restrict the rights and liberties of Americans. It has however, been amended to end slavery. It was also amended to guarantee people of color, young people and women the right to vote.
An anti-gay marriage amendment would not only affect LGBT families, but straight families as well, depending on the "new" definition of marriage. Committed couples opting not to marry, still face all the legal battles and expenses that same-sex couples do. An amendment does nothing to protect families; it prevents existing families from receiving the 500-plus benefits of marriage offered to other families.
The economic impact of marriage equity is critical for families. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts last year, there have been 5,400 same-sex weddings. Nearly two-thirds of these ceremonies have been between women. We know Idaho women make an average of 72.5 cents to every dollar an Idaho man earns for the same work, yet women are more likely to raise children than their male counterparts.
Many people who have negative judgments of LGBT people do not know anyone who identifies as LGBT. Coming out and showing your support is still one of the most important things you can do to humanize our lives and the lives of our allies. We look forward to seeing you at Boise Pride!
Andrea Shipley is the operations coordinator at Your Family, Friends and Neighbors, www.yffn.org.