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Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft Bans Gay Pride from the Justice Department; President Bush Refuses to Declare June Gay Pride month, Proclaiming June "Home-Owner's Month"

June 10, 2003

The NGLTF says its no surprise there were 12 anti-gay murders last year when homophobia reaches the highest level of government.

June is Gay Pride month. Every year, hundreds of thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people participate in marches, parades, and other events around the world.

Gay Pride harkens back over thirty years to June, 1969. It was the height of the civil rights era. For more than a decade, blacks and other oppressed groups had been openly standing up to, and fighting against, their oppressors. But gay people around the country were still quietly putting up with police raids on gay venues, harassment, and discrimination.

All of this changed one night in June, 1969, when New York City police officers raided a gay bar called Stonewall. Historian Lillian Faderman describes the scene: two hundred working-class patrons of the bar, including drag queens, third world gay men, and a handful of butch lesbians, started to riot. Their numbers doubled and soon, according to some sources, increased tenfold. The riots continued the following night. Fires were started all over the neighborhood. The first gay riots in U.S. history became known as the Stonewall Rebellion. It was the birth of a movement. (It is interesting to note that The New York Times relegated the story to five inches on page 33. It was headlined: "Four Policemen Hurt in Village Raid")

Today, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are still regularly ridiculed, discriminated against, harassed, and murdered. The instigators range from passers by in the street to the highest levels of government.

Last week, the man in charge of enforcing the nation’s civil rights, Attorney General John Aschroft, banned a gay pride event organized by some two hundred Justice Department employees.

Agency workers have held pride events for years — including last year, when John Ashcroft’s number two official, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, spoke to about 150 employees.

But then conservative groups lobbied Ashcroft to ban the event this year.

Now, Justice Department officials have told the DOJ Pride group it can’t hold the event at the department’s Pennsylvania Avenue building later this month because of a new policy prohibiting events not recognized by White House proclamation.

President Bush has issued hundreds of presidential proclamations, recognizing events African American History Month in Februrary and National Prayer Day. Bush declared June National Homeownership Month.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The president believes everybody ought to be treated with dignity and respect, but he does not believe we should be politicizing people’s sexual orientation."

  • Leonard Hirsch, president of the Federal GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Employees of the Federal Government)
  • Sean Cahill, director of the policy institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
  • Clarence Patton, acting executive director of the The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. People who have been harassed or attacked should call (212) 714-1141.


Federal GLOBE

DOJ Pride

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Anti-Violence Project