A Statement from Tom Homann LGBTQ+ Co-Presidents Meagan L. Verschueren, Esq. and Douglas L. Clark, Esq.
Tom Homann LGBTQ+ Law Association (THLA) condemns racist acts against Black Americans by law enforcement and any other individual or institution in the United States and the world. We hold true the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends” and we will not be silent.
We recall also the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu over thirty years ago: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Those words remind us that liberation is not given, it is fought for. We remember the Stonewall Riots that were led by trans women of color. We remember that before Stonewall, arrests of trans people and raids led to the Compton Cafeteria Riots, the Mattachine Society “sip-in” demonstration, and restaurant “sit-ins.” We remember the Dan White Night Riots after systemic prejudice failed Harvey Milk. We have been fighting ever since, and only recently have we gained the basic right of marriage. We remember that our freedoms were not free. The cost was outrage, destruction, resilience, persistence and the lives of innocent LGBTQ+ people before we saw change.
To our Black brothers and sisters: we see you, we hear you, and we are ready to listen and to fight alongside you. We must all stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all efforts to fight racism and change the pervasive culture of white supremacy and privilege in the United States. While we have fought for equality, we have historically not done enough to align our mission with working for racial justice. We believe this should go for all LGBTQ+ and diversity organizations. We publicly state our support today and ask our friends and supporters to step forward with us.
As other organizations have rightfully recognized, we must first listen and then act. We must ask and be open and willing to learn how we can help. We must stand with our Black communities but we must also kneel with them. Awareness is not a substitution for action.
Repeated recent events serve as a call to action to us all to serve and protect our sisters and brothers’ justice, equality, and liberty that they have been denied. We watched and listened as George Floyd begged for help. We saw what happened to Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We remember Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Terrence Crutcher, Samuel Dubose, Michael Brown, and the thousands of others. We remember that there are thousands of whom we will never know their names.
Our community has historically celebrated June as Pride Month because it represents our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, in San Francisco, and other places around the country. It was our breakthrough refusal to accept humiliation and fear as the price of being ourselves and our rise against those who told us we were illegal or our lives didn’t matter. Today we say publicly and loudly that #BlackLivesMatter and we are committed to helping in this fight.