June is Pride Month. Over 50 years ago, on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. It was one of a long history of raids that the queer community had been regularly subjected to. But that time was different. Members across the LGBTQ+ community demanded to be treated humanely and fought for their rights.
During Pride, the LGBTQ+ community commemorates the Stonewall riots and celebrates the civil rights achievements of the community.
An axiom of the LGBTQ+ community is "Silence = Death." The LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for justice and equal rights. We would not have gained civil-rights advances without the voices of our allies joining ours.
Last year, at our annual meeting, the Alliance of Illinois Judges ( AIJ ) asked allies to be a voice for equality and to educate themselves on issues facing the LGBTQ+ community; but more must be done to stand with people of color.
Equal protection and equal access will not be realities without confronting systemic barriers to both. Discussing these barriers, educating ourselves, and working towards a better justice system are integral parts of allyship. Judges and lawyers take an oath to uphold the Constitution. As Judges, we have the responsibility to ensure equal protection and equal access to justice.
The additional struggles and barriers LGBTQ+ people of color face are sharply in focus this year during Pride month. We cannot be silent.
What can be done? We can be better allies by pledging to come out, speak up and join in.
Come out: Explicitly denounce racism to family and friends and stand for justice and equality.
Speak up: Speak up against racist language and microaggressions. Call out injustices. Lift up the voices of our black and brown colleagues.
Join in: Become involved and educated on the history, legal issues, and current struggles facing Black and brown communities.
We must work collectively for justice daily not just in our courtrooms, but every day in our communities.
The world needs us to do better and to be better. We are one nation and one people: e pluribus unum.
Alliance of Illinois Judges