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Amid legislative battles, Evers marks June as LGBTQ Pride Month

The Democratic governor has made raising a Pride flag above the Wisconsin State Capitol an annual tradition during his time in office

A Progress Pride flag is raised Friday, May 31, 2024, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

For the sixth year in a row, and amid increasing legislative battles over the rights of LGBTQ citizens in statehouses across the country, an LGBTQ flag will fly over the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison for the month of June.

Gov. Tony Evers alluded to ongoing partisanship over issues like trans athletes and gender affirming healthcare in remarks outside the Capitol Friday.

“You’ve heard all the hateful rhetoric before from people in the Capitol … and it does nothing, nothing but hurt our kids, emboldens hate and violence and threatens the safety, security and dignity of LGBTQ people,” he said. “Frankly, that is just B.S.”

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Gov. Tony Evers addresses supporters outside the Wisconsin State Capitol before raising a Progress Pride flag Friday, May 31, 2024, in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

The Democratic governor launched the annual practice of marking June as Pride Month in his first term in office. And while he has alluded to culture war politics in past remarks, he had particularly direct words for Republicans who control the state Legislature after this year’s legislative session.

“Raising the Pride flag also sends an important reminder to people who work in the other wings of this building that … this is the people’s house,” Evers said. “These elected leaders serve at the pleasure of the people of the state. And yes, that means LGBTQ Wisconsinites too.”

Republicans passed bills that would have restricted transgender students’ participation in school sports and banned minors from receiving gender-affirming healthcare. They also passed a “Parents Bill of Rights” that would have, among other things, allowed parents keep their kids out of lessons about “controversial” topics and decide the pronouns their kids use at school. Evers pledged in advance that those would be dead on arrival at his desk, and he later vetoed each of them.

A Progress Pride flag is raised Friday, May 31, 2024, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Nationwide, Republicans and Democrats are similarly divided on issues of LGBTQ rights, with some 515 comparable or identical bills about healthcare, sports participation and school curricula, among other issues, introduced in 2023, according to the ACLU.

After Evers’ remarks Friday, workers raised a colorful “Pride Progress” flag, which will wave above the East Wing of the building for the rest of the month.

It “is a symbol of my resolve and my administration’s resolve to always stand with LGBTQ Wisconsinites, including our trans and gender nonconforming kids and fight to protect them with every tool, and every power that we have. End of story,” Evers said.

Evers also formally proclaimed June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Wisconsin. In the proclamation, Evers wrote that “the state must commit to combatting hateful rhetoric and policies that target LGBTQ Wisconsinites — and LGBTQ kids, in particular.”

Many states mark June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, an homage to the Stonewall Uprising, which took place in June 1969, and is credited with launching the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

The sun shines on the a Progress Pride flag after it was raised above the Wisconsin State Capitol on Friday, May 31, 2024, in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR
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