News and Commentary

LA Gay Pride Parade Organizers Decide To Protest Trump Instead

According to the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Pride parade will be different this year:

In lieu of the colorful floats that typically roll down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, this year’s event on June 11 will simply consist of “people moving through the streets” marching for human rights, said Brian Pendleton, a board member for Christopher Street West, the nonprofit that organizes the annual event.

“We’re getting back to our roots,” Pendleton said. “We will be resisting forces that want to roll back our rights, and politicians who want to make us second-class citizens.”

“Pride” is a tradition dating back to the early 1970s; it came about as a commemorative event honoring the Stonewall Riots that took place in Manhattan in 1969. Over time, it evolved into a celebration of all things gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Pride parades and events take place across the country throughout the month of June.

Brian Pendleton’s altering of the annual event brings up one critical question: What does a protest march accomplish that a Pride parade wouldn’t?

Many LGBT individuals and allies might argue that a more serious event would better reflect the climate in which we live; that the current administration is dangerous to LGBT rights. Here’s the problem – President Donald Trump, despite wanting to appoint originalist SCOTUS Justices who might disagree with 2014’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision which legalized gay marriage nationally, has publicly called gay marriage “settled.”

In a November 2016 interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl, Trump said: “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m — I’m fine with that.”

He did say in January 2016 that he’d nominate conservative judges for the Supreme Court. Such judges might want to overrule Obergefell in the future because many conservatives argue that marriage is a state issue:

“[Gay marriage] has been ruled upon. It has been there. If I’m elected I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change things, but they have a long way to go…I disagree with the court in that it should have been a states’ rights issue.”

That said, Trump himself seems as though he doesn’t care to litigate gay marriage again. Vice President Mike Pence has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage, but the VP doesn’t have any legislative power aside from tie-breaking votes in the Senate. The rest of Trump’s cabinet has little power to pursue anything relating to LGBT rights, and the House and Senate are composed of most of the same individuals as before the election.

Given this, the alleged “forces that want to roll back [LGBT] rights” are no more powerful today than they were yesterday. Any legal battle against gay marriage would go to the Supreme Court, which, if Neil Gorsuch is confirmed, would be ideologically identical to the SCOTUS of 2014, and it would be defeated. There is no imminent fight.

So, once again, what does a march accomplish that a parade would not? It satiates a need to be seen publicly fighting a perceived oppressive power.

Righteous indignation is an intoxicating drug that, in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascension, has only become more popular. People want to be seen being righteous; it makes them feel good. So rather than celebrate Pride like usual, organizers are making it a righteous-indignation-festival that will accomplish absolutely nothing, but will make them feel as though they made some kind of difference.