Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize June as National LGBT Pride Month. Our greatest strength is its promise of equality for every citizen, and we have made significant progress in ensuring that promise is kept regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a proud member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I am committed to extending full rights to all Americans, repealing discriminatory laws, and eliminating hateful violence.
This past year has brought many changes in law and policy, and there have been noticeable changes in public discourse as well. Last year, the military repealed its discriminatory ``Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy, and a federal circuit court ruled last week that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. President Obama's historic endorsement of same-sex marriage has also moved this country into a new era of progressive thinking and equal rights for all.
The 37th District of California has seen incredible movement toward equality and acceptance. I am proud to represent the significant population of gay, lesbian and transgender constituents in my district. This is a community that has become integral to the Long Beach area and continues to give back to the city in many ways.
Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc. is one of the larger philanthropic organizations in the city, and they developed the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade in 1984. They have also granted nearly one million dollars to local non-profit organizations, and organized a toy drive for disabled and disadvantaged children in conjunction with catholic charities.
The Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade continues to be the main project for the organization. When it first began its organizers faced death threats and fierce opposition. Today, the parade is the nation's third-largest pride parade and attracts over 75,000 participants annually. It is heralded as one of the district's most popular attractions, and its organizers have helped to foster greater understanding and respect in the community.
During my time in Congress I have supported many different areas of LGBT legislation. I am an original co-sponsor of multiple bills including: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination in the work place; the Equal Access to COBRA Act which guarantees the continuation of health coverage to any qualified beneficiary under an employer's health insurance; and the Reuniting Families Act which supports the core value of keeping all families together regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity together.
I voted to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and signed the amicus brief declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and I am proud the Obama Administration will no longer defend section 3 of DOMA. These actions make our country stronger not weaker; they bring our national policies closer to our national ideals; and they affirm that in America it is the content of our character that counts, not immutable characteristics of birth.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues and American citizens to join me in celebrating the accomplishments of the LGBT community across the United States. However, there is still so much more work to be done. Every citizen of this country deserves the same opportunities regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Recent events have made momentous gains towards that goal, but let us not forget we still have a long fight ahead of us.