“The 2016 St. Pete Pride Parade has taken on a new relevance and meaning following the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy and serving as grand marshal will be an opportunity to encourage healing among our neighbors. This hateful attack will not stop our LGBTQ friends from celebrating pride in who they are or break our resolve to lead the way in fighting against injustice and inequity. Coming on the heels of the historic congressional sit-in to end gun violence, I am very sensitive that the LGBTQ community remains the subject of more hate crimes than any other group. St. Pete Pride provides an opportunity for everyone, whether gay or straight, to speak out for equal rights and greater understanding.
“In Tampa Bay and throughout Florida, we have fought resolutely for equal rights. Despite opposition, I know we have stood on the right side of history. We can celebrate that the historic step in marriage equality as I reflect on standing on the U.S. Supreme Court steps last summer on the morning Obergefell v. Hodges was announced. Now all loving couples who make a lifetime commitment to each other are equal under the U.S. Constitution . “I have never wavered on fighting discrimination and this also means fighting for the safety of all of our communities. As I kick off the St. Pete Pride Parade this year with much pride for the diverse community that I represent, I will be thinking of my neighbors who were victims in the Orlando massacre and too many others who have been killed by gun violence and hateful crimes throughout the country. I will continue to press for action on commonsense legislation that is worthy of the lives lost, and that will protect families and children across our state and nation.”
U.S. Rep. Castor has been a long-time champion of equal rights and diversity. As a Hillsborough County Commissioner in 2005, she was the sole vote against a ban on gay pride. She continued to work for its reversal and continued her work on equal rights when elected to Congress. In 2013, the Hillsborough County gay ban was finally repealed unanimously by commissioners, even by commissioners who opposed her years prior. In addition, she signed an amicus brief to support overturning the Defense of Marriage Act; DOMA was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. In 2014, U.S. Rep. Castor hosted a wedding for a Tampa same-sex couple in her Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C. to provide them a haven to establish their lifelong bond and to highlight the inequality Florida’s gay couples faced before same-sex marriages became legal in Florida.