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    Rep. Robert Garcia: 40 years of Pride and progress
    • July 30, 2023

    By Rep. Robert Garcia, Guest columnist

    As the both the former mayor of Long Beach and the first openly LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress, I’m excited and proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Long Beach Pride this week.

    Our city is home to a vibrant, diverse community, and it means so much to me that every year, this continues to be one of the largest events in Long Beach and brings our entire community together.

    Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has launched a campaign for congress. As he looks to fill the seat Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) will give up at the end of 2022, he sat down for a talk with the Press-Telegram in Long Beach on Thursday, December 23, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

    Long Beach Pride is one of the best things about our city, and I know that for me and so many others, being able to see people like us — out and proud — has had a profound impact on our lives. It’s a historic celebration that highlights the strength and diversity of our community, how far we’ve come, and how important it is we continue fighting for equal rights and dignity.

    I’m incredibly grateful to represent a city and a state that’s welcoming for everyone and supports our entire community regardless of who you are and who you love. But we also know this hasn’t always been the case — even in Long Beach.

    Above all, I especially want to thank and uplift everyone whose tremendous work over the course of generations helped build the diverse, inclusive city we love today and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them throughout Pride.

    Pride is and should be a celebration. But we also can’t forget its history and the struggle for basic rights and dignity that continues today. We must also remember that we’re celebrating at a time when the rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community are under attack from extreme forces.

    State legislators around the U.S. have passed hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in recent years — more than 75 in just the first seven months of 2023 — and the Human Rights Campaign has officially declared a state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community. And now, extremists in the House of Representatives are taking aim at LGBTQ+ Americans no matter where they live.

    Right now, thousands of Americans are forced to cross state lines to access gender-affirming care for their loved ones. State agencies are being asked to investigate LGBTQ+ history in our public libraries and schools. And some on the Supreme Court have even openly sugested that the constitutionality of same-sex marriage should be overturned.

    I’m proud to have stood up to these attacks in Congress and introduced legislation protecting the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ people, including the International Human Rights Defense Act, which now has more than 100 cosponsors.

    My bill would permanently create the position of an LGBTQ+ global envoy in the U.S. State Department to ensure that — no matter who the president is — it’s the official policy of the United States to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.

    I will continue to fight so that everyone in our city, and elswhere, can live openly and be supported.

    Happy Pride.

    Editor’s note: Rep. Robert Garcia was elected to the House of Represenatives in November and is the first openly LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress. Before that, he was the first openly gay mayor in Long Beach’s history, serving two terms.

    ​ Orange County Register