A quarter-century has passed since gay NYPD cops sued for and won the right to march in the annual Pride Parade in their police uniforms, notching a small victory in the decades-long battle to end anti-LGBT discrimination within the now 36,000-uniformed-member force.
The long arc of history just bent the wrong way. The woke folk at Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit that’s run the parade since 1984, have just imposed a new ban on cops in uniform participating next month’s COVID virtual Pride March. Somehow, people chronically discriminated against – with a shameful history of being sidelined from other parades – see no irony in kicking a group to the curb just because of their jobs.
Organizers said the ban is warranted because cops in uniform can create “an atmosphere of fear or harm,” particularly for Black and transgender people. Shame on them; while cops, like some of every group, do bad deeds, far many more routinely risk life and limb to protect members of the city’s LBGT community. Which is, frankly, beside the point when considering whether a gay man or lesbian woman who happens to also be a police officer should be able to celebrate their sexual orientation at the same time that they express pride in their profession.
Since its creation in 1982, the trailblazing Gay Officers’ Action League has advocated insistently for LGBT officers and helped address discrimination in the department. What good is served, for example, by banning a transgender officer like Aiden Budd, who marched in uniform in the parade in 2016, from showing the world that gender identity and sexual orientation don’t stop a person from practicing any occupation with dignity and skill? Maybe the parade’s organizers should read their own mission statement, proclaiming that “we respect, value, and celebrate the unique attributes, characteristics and perspectives that make each person who they are.”
Or would organizers prefer that gay, lesbian and transgender cops participate in the parade, but in plainclothes, hiding who they really are? That’s called closeting.
– New York Daily News Editorial Board