Every June, our communities come together to celebrate Pride Month, a tradition that grows stronger every year. In 1989, Massachusetts became the second state to pass a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Our state has always been a national leader on defending LGBTQ rights, and I’m proud of our communities’ work and reputation as a place that promotes inclusion and acceptance.
As we celebrate Pride in our communities, we look at how far we have come as a country, and how far we have to go. In Washington, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are trying to roll back the gains the LGBTQ community has fought so hard to make. As your representative in Congress, you have my promise: I’ll never stop fighting for equal rights for everyone.
Last June, I sat down with bipartisan leaders at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to focus on advocacy and activism within the LGBTQ community in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. The theme of the panel was “stronger together” — despite the people that try to drive a wedge between communities, we are the strongest when we stand united in the face of discrimination. That’s a value I truly believe in.
The LGBTQ community is no stranger to fighting for their rights, and I’m proud that I’ve supported my constituents on the issues that matter. This includes co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act; fighting against defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman; working to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; and supporting the right of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor same-sex spouses for green cards before court decisions upheld that right.
I’m proud of my 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, but even prouder of the fact that when I served as Somerville’s mayor, I fought hard for equal benefits, including fighting against insurance companies who refused to extend benefits to same-sex couples. As mayor, I was successful in redefining who was eligible for extended maximum bereavement leave to include domestic partners — and all these fights came before our laws allowed or required these actions.
Today, we’ve come far. On Saturday, I’m honored to march in the 48th Pride Parade in Boston. 48 years of celebrating who people are, who they love, and the battles we’ve had to fight to make our city, our state and our nation a place where inclusion and acceptance are the norm, not the exception. I know we have work to do here in Massachusetts, and around our country. And during Pride Week in Massachusetts, I’m proud to join the LGBTQ community and celebrate what makes each and every person unique.
Happy Pride Month — and here’s to another year of creating more opportunities for all.
Michael Capuano is a United States Congressman representing our community.