PHILADELPHIA — LGBT rights activists gathered in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July to mark the progress of their movement and pay tribute to those who launched it a half-century ago – but also made it clear that the fight for equality was far from over.
“In too many communities, you can still get married on Sunday and then fired on Monday . Marriage equality was a critical milestone but not the final destination,” said activist Aisha Moodie-Mills, referring to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages nationwide.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that no community’s rights are one and done with a simple piece of legislation. . Equality is not set in stone,” Moodie-Mills said.
The event was part of a weekend-long celebration of some of the earliest gay rights marches, including a gathering of about 40 protesters calling for equality at the same location on July 5, 1965.
Organizers called that demonstration an incredibly bold and courageous move by the standards of the day, when homosexuals were legally barred from government jobs and could be arrested for engaging in consensual intimate acts even in the privacy of their own homes. The American Psychiatric Association classified being gay as a disease that could be treated with chemical castration or lobotomy.
“Fifty years ago, America perceived us as degenerates,” said Malcolm Lazin, who organized the anniversary events. “One of the many goals of the gay pioneers was to demonstrate that we are first class American citizens.”