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.

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.

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.

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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