This weekend is Gay Pride weekend, and activists have a lot to celebrate: This time last year, only one U.S. state -- Massachusetts -- allowed same-sex marriage. But in the past several months, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Iowa have all passed legislation allowing gay couples to wed. At the same time, California became the first state to revoke existing marriage right, and progress on LGBT issues seems to have stalled on the federal level, as advocates criticize President Obama for backpedaling on his promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and failing to take action on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Along with bittersweet current events, celebrants will also be commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. On June 28, 1969, patrons of New York's Stonewall Inn fought back, for the first time, as police violently raided the bar. Their courageous stand sparked the modern gay rights movement.
Unfortunately, not all of Stonewall's wounds have been healed, even after four decades. As The Advocate reports, 89-year-old Seymour Pine, the NYPD deputy inspector who led the raid, continues to defend the attack. "I don’t think not liking gay people had anything to do with it," he said on WNYC-FM's "Brian Lehrer Show." Later, in response to a direct question about whether the police should have invaded Stonewall, Pine replied, "When we took the action that we took that night, we were on the side of right. We never would have done something without supervision from the federal authorities and the state authorities. They were involved with this just as well as we were."
Meanwhile, a NY Daily News article interviews veterans of the early gay rights movement. The men rhapsodize about their Stonewall experience."You felt protected there," 61-year-old Tony Lanigan-Schmidt told the paper. "It became a place that I was able to be myself." Ellen Shumsky, 68, returned to New York from Paris to come out of the closet and join the nascent Gay Liberation Front. "I had kind of an epiphany," she said. "It felt like this organization was going to heal my torn self. I came rushing back." And while activists quoted in the article praise how far the movement has come, Lanigan-Schmidt laments that "gay people are still fighting to be seen as full human beings and want someone to have and to hold."