LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and in October we remember the long road traveled

“History is a diary of humankind. To forget it is to try to navigate the future with no memory of the past,” – T.L. Recse

October is LBGTQ+ History month, and this year it is far more than a “Hallmark holiday.” it is a time for us to commemorate and honor LGBTQ+ people, communities, and leaders of past, and present, who are making our community a more vibrant and thriving place. Miami has an important and often forgotten, piece of LGBTQ+ history.

Join us in remembering.

In 1976, Ruth Shack, former CEO of The Miami Foundation was newly elected as a Miami-Dade County Commissioner. She brought an item to the dais that she would have considered a no brainer: add a protection to our county’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include “affectional or sexual preference.” 19 other municipalities across the nation had passed similar ordinances, and we followed suit, passing an ordinance here too. 

Don’t break out the champagne yet, though. Shortly after the passing of this basic protection for LGBTQ+ individuals, Anita Bryant – a former Miss America runner up and Florida orange juice spokesperson – launched a campaign to overturn the ordinance. The campaign was dubbed, “Save Our Children“, and eventually a public vote was held, overturning the anti-discrimination ordinance, and once again permitting our LGBTQ+ community members to be discriminated against at work, public accommodations, credit and financing practices, and in housing.

It wasn’t until 20 years later that the Miami-Dade County’s Board of County Commissioners revisited this issue and once again added anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in Miami.

As a home base for generosity and social impact in Miami, we’re proud that our first CEO was a known champion for human rights and a leader in this community effort. Her commitment to equity, dignity, and protection for all human beings in our community is a fundamental value that has shaped every fiber of our existence.

Unfortunately, our LGBTQ+ community still faces significant threats, and more work is needed to continue Ruth’s legacy and ensure all in our community, especially the most vulnerable, feel seen, safe, and cared for. This year, as we saw increased pressure upon LGBTQ+ organizations, The Miami Foundation, and our partners took action. Together, in lockstep with the National LGBTQ Taskforce and Our Fund Foundation (two wonderful, tenacious organizations focused explicitly on strengthening the LGBTQ+ community, nationally and in South Florida, respectively), we co-launched the South Florida LGBTQ+ Equity Fund. We raised and disseminated a round of funding immediately to ensure LGBTQ+ youth were receiving the support they needed. Our collective efforts continue to this day. We’ve raised $500,000 thus far and hope to do much more. Learn about our collaboration here.

As a community foundation, it is important for our network to constantly keep a pulse on the state of need across Greater Miami, and to mobilize across a wide variety of issue areas. We should never leave a group to have to solely defend itself – LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and in October we remember the long road traveled, and stay resolved for the journey ahead.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and status of LGBTQ+ rights across the country and where Miami stands on its protections for the LGBTQ+ community, take a look here

If you want to join us in this ongoing effort, our LGBTQ+ Equity Fund (in partnership with Our Fund Foundation and the National LGBTQ Taskforce) can be found here. We are also thrilled to be joining for the National LGBTQ Taskforce Gala on October 22, and you can join us here.

When we take the time to remember, it is a reflection of our values. This October, thanks for joining us in remembering LGBTQ+ history and helping push us forward a stronger Miami for all who call this place home.

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