Pride Month 2021: The US State of Virginia is officially celebrating the month with a host of events
June is celebrated as the Pride Month the world over. Now, Virginia's Governor, Ralph Northam, has proclaimed June as Pride Month in his state to celebrate the Commonwealth’s LGBTQ+ communities, their achievements and contributions, and their fight for inclusion and equality.
Virginians are encouraged to participate in Pride Month events hosted by the Northam Administration and community organizations taking place online and in person throughout the Commonwealth. Governor Northam also issued the following statement and shared a new video message about Pride Month, which is observed in June in Virginia and nationwide. "This Pride Month, we are reminded of the resilience of LGBTQ+ Americans and their fight for inclusion and acceptance and equal access to services and opportunities. As we celebrate the diversity of our Commonwealth, we also recognize the contributions of LGBTQ+ communities in making Virginia a welcoming and affirming place," he said, adding, "While we have made significant progress in expanding rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families in Virginia, and in America, we know that there is much more work to be done. We are proud to stand with and support LGBTQ+ Virginians as we recommit to building a Commonwealth and country where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and all people can live freely and authentically."
A host of events such as Queer Community Picnic, LGBTQIA+ Lunch and Learn Panel: Cultivating a Rainbow, Pub Runs: Rainbow Run – 5K For Pride, Pride Month Spotlight: LGBT Life Center | Celebrate PRIDE at the Hampton Public Library, and Virtual Kick Off Celebration: The Pride of Rural Virginia Project are being hosted through the month.
Every June, Pride Month commemorates the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that began on June 28, 1969, and are often recognized as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. Pride Month also celebrates several landmark rulings from the United States Supreme Court that upheld LGBTQ+ rights and advanced equality in the United States, including decisions that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, and affirmed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on sex in 2020.
Governor Northam has taken historic action during his term to make the Commonwealth a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ Virginians to live and work. During the most recent General Assembly session, he signed legislation striking the discriminatory LGBTQ+ "panic defense" and modernizing several outdated criminal laws related to people living with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Governor Northam also signed a new law creating the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, which will act as a formal liaison between the Commonwealth’s executive branch and LGBTQ+ communities. And he approved legislation ensuring equal access to aging services for LGBTQ+ older adults and making it easier for unmarried LGBTQ+ couples to adopt. These laws will become effective July 1, 2021.
In 2020, Governor Northam signed the Virginia Values Act, enacting comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public accommodations, and access to credit. He also signed legislation that bans the practice of “conversion therapy” for minors and approved measures that increase protections for transgender students in Virginia public schools, give localities greater authority to ban discrimination, expand the definition of a hate crime to include criminal acts based gender identity and sexual orientation, and make it easier for LGBTQ+ individuals to obtain a birth certificate that matches their gender identity.