Mayor Pete Buttigieg scored the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund on Friday night. Buttigieg made a speech to the organization back in April as his poll numbers began to surge.
Said Annise Parker, president of the Victory Fund: “Every day that Pete is in the race, from the standpoint of an LGBT activist, he transforms American politics. As long as he is on that debate stage, LGBTQ issues can never be put on the backburner.”
Buttigieg also released a message about Stonewall:
Fifty years ago, early on a Saturday morning, police came through the door of the Stonewall Inn. That raid gave rise to a resistance, which in turn helped launch the arrival of LGBTQ consciousness in America as we know it.
My candidacy is possible today only because of the hard work and sacrifice, the literal blood, sweat, and tears, of LGBTQ activists and leaders who worked to create that moment and those that rose up in its aftermath—leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Edith Windsor, and Harvey Milk.
The story of Stonewall teaches us that sometimes you’ve got to take a stand and fight back if you want things to change. That was the defiant message of the Stonewall rioters—fed up with abuse by law enforcement and marginalization by society—who responded with fists, beer cans, and even a chorus line. (One protestor, encouraging other New Yorkers to join the riots and perhaps embrace their own sexuality, ran up and down the street slyly shouting, “Come out, come out!”).
But the story of equality since Stonewall also tells us that we can’t make change alone. Allies stood at our side, from civil rights leaders to the women’s movement to organized labor, including allies from unlikely places—from the faith community, figures in both parties, and from the American heartland. It’s a reminder that all of us need to stand up for any among us who are targeted for mistreatment, for hate, for disadvantage. Because we never know who will be next if we fail to stand up; and because we never know how far we might move forward when we all do it together.
We still have a long way to go, as we are reminded with every LGBTQ young person living on the streets, every trans person killed simply for being themselves, every candle we light to remember those lost while we race to find a cure for HIV and AIDS. So we need to redouble our efforts, working to pass hate crimes laws in every state, enacting a federal Equality Act, and ending the war on trans Americans from the military to the workplace to healthcare. As Chasten likes to say, every pat on the back we give ourselves should serve as a push forward.
Yet as I travel this great country, as I reflect on this momentous anniversary, I am filled with hope. At the beginning of this decade, it was certain in my state that you could either serve in elected office or you could be out, but not both. When I joined the military, it was a matter of law that you could either be in uniform or you could be out, but not both. As recently as a few years ago, in most states, you could be in a same-sex relationship or you could be married, but not both. And today, in that same decade, it is possible for a war veteran and top-tier presidential candidate to campaign with his husband at his side.
If we hold fast to that hope—if we take up the unfinished work of achieving true freedom and dignity for every American—then what began half a century ago with broken bottles may yet end with more broken barriers.