Atlanta to observe LGBT Equality Day annually on June 26
By David Pendered
Atlanta will observe June 26 as LGBT Equality Day in recognition of that date being significant on the LGBT calendar because that is the date on which the Supreme Court issued rulings on human rights, and it was the date of Atlanta’s first observance of Atlanta Gay Pride Day.
Every member of the Atlanta City Council signed a resolution that proclaims June 26 as LGBT Equality Day.
Atlanta Councilmember Kwanza Hall sponsored the resolution. Hall invited Atlanta Councilmember Alex Wan to join him for the presentation and to make remarks.
Beth Littrell, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, said in remarks during the event that advocates there eventually will be a national LGBT Equality Day. Littrell has been involved with several lawsuits significant to the LGBT community.
Here it the full text of the resolution:
- “Whereas, On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage; and
- “Whereas, In recent national history, June 26 has been a day of significant judicial rulings in the struggle for LGBT and human rights. On June 26, 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to criminalize the consensual, intimate conduct of two people of the same sex. On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to deprive same sex couples of the equal liberty of people who are protected by the Fifth Amendment; and
- “Whereas, Locally, on June 26, 1976, the City of Atlanta marked the first official Gay Pride Day; and
- “Whereas, The City of Atlanta has one of the highest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations per capita among major American cities and has a rich history in the struggle for civil and human rights.
- “Now, Therefore, We, the members of the Atlanta City Council, and on behalf of the citizens of Atlanta, recognize this singularly important day on Atlanta’s LGBT calendar and hereby proclaim the twenty-sixth day of June annually as LGBT Equality Day in the City of Atlanta.
Hall said the resolution grew out of a meeting at which representatives of the ACLU and Lambda Legal noted that June 26 is an important day on the calendar of the human rights movement.
The court issued its ruling June 26 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, and three related cases. In a 5-4 ruling, the court found the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.
Hall read the resolution and invited Wan to make remarks. Wan began by noting that he and his fiance became engaged on June 26 at an event at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, in Atlanta.
“I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime,” Wan said of the Supreme Court ruling. “It’s a real affirmation of what our community has been working for, for a long time…. At the end, love won.”
Atlanta Councilmember Mary Norwood said the resolution is, “perfect,” adding, “We do embrace this, and I personally am looking forward to Gay Pride once again.”
Littrell presented a history of legal cases that led to the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26. She reminded of the Bowers v. Hardwick case that was initiated by the arrest of Michael Hardwick by Atlanta police officers who saw him engaged in a sex act with a man inside Hardwick’s home.
The Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law in its 1986 ruling in the Hardwick case. The Supreme Court overturned its decision in its 2003 ruling in the Lawrence v. Texas lawsuit.
“There’s no debate this city has long been an oasis,” Littrell said. “We are so pleased that now and every June 26 this city sends a powerful message, we and hope it will be part of what will become a national holiday.”