Hundreds of thousands crowded New York City's streets Sunday for the city's annual LGBT Pride festivities. Sunday's march marked an especially significant occasion for LGBT people and their allies as it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that most view as sparking the modern LGBT rights movement.
New York's march, which ends its two mile course near the historic Stonewall Inn, drew prominent figures from the LGBT movement, both past and present. Dustin Lance Black, who recently won an Oscar for his screenplay Milk, was one of four grand marshals at the parade. Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg, both of whom worked closely with the iconic LGBT rights leader, Harvey Milk, also grand marshaled the event. Additionally, hundreds of organizations, companies, and political groups marched in support of the local and national LGBT community.
New Yorkers appeared hopeful that soon they would join the ranks of such states as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Delaware and New Hampshire and become the seventh state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. A bill that would extend marriage protections to same-sex couples is currently pending a vote in the NY senate.
Gov. David Paterson (D-NY), a strong proponent of the bill, was an honorary grand marshal in yesterday's parade. Gov. Paterson told The Associated Press yesterday that "if we have an end to the stalemate in Albany, [he] would think that [the bill] would be passed shortly after."
But some were in more somber spirits, reflecting on what they see as President Obama's lack of commitment to the LGBT community. The New York Times, for instance, published an editorial on Sunday, in which columnist Frank Rich noted that "Obama's inaction on gay civil rights is striking."
Rich goes on challenge President Obama to action, saying:
Gay Americans aren't just another political special interest group. They are Americans who are actively discriminated against by federal laws. If the president is to properly honor the memory of Stonewall, he should get up to speed on what happened 40 years ago, when courageous kids who had nothing, not even a public acknowledgment of their existence, stood up to make history happen in the least likely of places.
Blogger ‘ARDem', however, said to readers on DailyKos and Pam's House Blend that LGBT people should celebrate their progress, rather than ruminate over their losses:
the fact that a popular President is being held to task for his lack of action on behalf of [the LGBT] community is something that should be reassuring... instead we could be facing the same things those that went before us did - organized state oppression, a world where hatred of LGBT Americans isn't simply a disgusting fact of life but something to be expected and uplifted. . .
‘ARDem' bids his readers to "channel the courage of Stonewall" in their struggle toward equality.
Yesterday, President Obama honored the 40th anniversary of Stonewall alongside 250 plus LGBT leaders in the East Room of the White House.
Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, said of the event:
[It] is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT Americans. Invited guests include families, volunteers and activists, and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month.
GLAAD's incoming President, Jarrett Barrios, attended the White House event with his 17-year-old son, Javier. Barrios said the event "was a symbol of the fact that the administration recognizes our community at a time when there has been growing frustration about his administration's seeming reticence to follow through on campaign promises."
GLAAD will continue to report on the media's coverage of Stonewall's 40th Anniversary. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org as they become available.