June is Pride Month, a time when we recognize the strides that have been made in achieving equal justice and equal opportunity for LGBTQ+ Americans. It is also a time to lift awareness of the work still to be done.
Over the past decade there have been real gains in overturning discriminatory laws and practices in some areas, such as same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, recognition of non-binary gender identity, access to public facilities like restrooms for transgender people, and military service opportunities for LGBTQ+ people. Just this week, we celebrated a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ+ people from employment discrimination.
Despite the progress, there is much work ahead of us to combat the widespread discrimination that continues to impact the lives of LGBTQ+ people in profound and significant ways. The threat to the physical safety of LGBTQ+ people often dictates choices about where to live, work, go to school, or travel. There are still no explicit laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination at either a national level, or in most states. The Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle protections for LGBTQ+ people in the areas of employment, housing, and health care are relentless.
Ensuring that our elected officials, state agency heads, and judges will protect LGBTQ+ rights is key in the fight to achieving equity and justice for all. Many voters are unaware of the important role of New Hampshire’s Executive Council in protecting all of our fundamental rights, including LGBTQ+ rights. Every two years, voters elect the five-member Executive Council. The council must approve all state contracts over $10,000 and must also approve all judicial nominations and key appointments to state agencies, boards and commissions.
One example of the important role of the Executive Council in the contract approval process is the state’s contract with Bethany Christian Services, an organization that provides faith-based support services for adoptive and foster parents, but refuses to work with same-sex couples. This discriminatory practice cannot be tolerated from state contractors.
The Executive Council also approves nominations to the N.H. Human Rights Commission, a state agency responsible for eliminating discrimination in employment, access to public accommodations, and in housing. These nominees must be aware of and committed to advancing LGBTQ+ justice. And of course, of critical importance is the appointment of state judges, including to the N.H. Supreme Court, who will apply the law fairly and without discrimination.
Having capable, experienced executive councilors who will stand up for the rights of all Granite Staters, including LGBTQ+ rights, is a powerful tool in the battle for justice.
We celebrate Pride Month in June, but let’s remember PRIDE in September and November when we vote.
(Rep. Gerri Cannon, who represents Somersworth and Rollinsford in the N.H. House of Representatives, was one of the first transgender women elected to the Legislature. She has endorsed Cinde Warmington for Executive Council District 2. Cinde Warmington, a health care attorney with the law firm of Shaheen & Gordon, is an LGBTQ+ parent and candidate for Executive Council District 2.)
Read Gerri Cannon and Cinde Warmington’s op-ed in the Concord Monitor here.