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Pioneering pride


Joann Bell May 30th, 2012

Another Pride Week has passed. Never before have we had more of a reason to stand with the LGBT citizens of Oklahoma than now. With the breakthrough of a sitting president endorsing and recognizing the rights of gay citizens to marry and hold the same legal rights as heterosexual couples — for the first time in history — we have much to celebrate.

Another Pride Week has passed. Never before have we had more of a reason to stand with the LGBT citizens of Oklahoma than now. With the breakthrough of a sitting president endorsing and recognizing the rights of gay citizens to marry and hold the same legal rights as heterosexual couples — for the first time in history — we have much to celebrate.

Yet the fight has been long and difficult, and so many who started the efforts in Oklahoma to ensure equal rights for all citizens are no longer here to celebrate.

I recall the pride parades of the late ’80s in Oklahoma City: not large in the beginning, but they did not lack enthusiasm. Today, the parade is huge, and many churches, mainstream corporations, and civic and civil rights groups sponsor and participate in Pride Week and the parade. Thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and Cimarron Alliance (and a couple of great attorneys), the pride banners proudly wave on Classen Boulevard.

One cannot think of Pride Week without remembering some who paved the way for the celebration we enjoy today. Three who stand out in my mind are Keith Smith, Bill Rogers and Paul Thompson. Sadly, all three are no longer with us. In addition, many others worked tirelessly advocating for human rights ordinances, which would include sexual orientation. The heated debates at City Council meetings back then would last all day, and yet no one ever wanted to give up.

Supporting the rights of all citizens is the right thing to do. Be proud to be on the “right side of history” and always celebrate Pride Week in Oklahoma.

—Joann Bell, Harrah


Bell is the former executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma.


Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

 
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