It wasn’t long ago that calling for the equal rights and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens would be shrugged off in the South, including Pensacola.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this year that same-sex couples can marry everywhere. Across the country, gay couples headed to courthouses and city halls to gain the rights they’ve long been denied. But while it’s tempting to consider this year’s Supreme Court ruling as the finale of the gay rights movement, this win should not be celebrated as the final battle for full equality.
Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation remains an everyday challenge across the country, including along the Gulf Coast. Currently, 31 states lack comprehensive laws that protect gay and transgender Americans from being fired, evicted or denied basic privileges that heterosexual Americans are afforded. Included among those 31 states are Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
Many Americans still worry that being out to colleagues and bosses could jeopardize their job security or career advancement. Considering its 2015, that fact alone is abhorrent and deeply troubling.
The simple fact is that discriminating against gay people is surprising legal in much of the country. A 2013 poll by YouGov/Huffington Post surveyed 1,000 people and found that nearly 70% of people thought it was illegal under federal law for someone to be fired for being gay. In these states where fully inclusive non-discrimination protections are lacking, people are at risk of being fired, evicted, or refused service just because they’re gay. So while federal law may now allow a LGBT couple to get married, it offers exactly zero protection for so many other forms of discrimination.
Now, we could wait for our state and local governments to catch up to the modern era, but there are certain issues too important to just be left at the hands of government. We can push the bar of progress in our individual communities and there’s at least one group here in Pensacola that’s doing just that.
Sunday’s Child is a non-profit organization, launched in 2014, and is quickly spreading the message about its mission: to promote equality and inspire inclusion across the Pensacola Bay area.
The group’s name is a play on the nursery rhyme Monday’s Child, which reads, “But the child who is born on the Sabbath day Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.”
Chuck Presti, the group’s founder and president, says the name was very important to him to get right. “I saw the naming of Sunday’s Child appropriate, as this is our child that we’re trying to grow,” Presti said in a recent interview with The Pulse.
Many of the founding members of Sunday’s Child are members of the LGBT community, all who met to find a way to give back to the community through the advancement of equality in Pensacola. A common goal emerged to that aim, which was awarding grants to charitable organizations that place value on diversity, inclusion and equality within the community.
The group launched last year with more than 100 members and raised over $65,000 for charities and economic initiatives with non-discriminatory and inclusion policies in place. With help from the community in spreading their message of change, the founders and members of the group hope to expand membership and award grants to more organizations this year.
Let’s be on the right side of this issue and stand up in promoting and inspiring equality and inclusion in Pensacola and all along the Gulf Coast. We should all dedicate ourselves with the same energy with which we fought for the right to marry to furthering equality and inclusiveness for all.
If you’re interested in furthering progress within our community and promoting equality for all Pensacolians, consider attending the final mixer of the year for Sunday’s Child this Friday, November 13th from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the First City Art Center, 1060 N. Guillemard St, in downtown Pensacola. You can RSVP here.