Gavin Newsom: Why I Decided to Fly the Pride Flag at the California Capitol | Opinion

As governor of a state as large and diverse as California, I make a lot of difficult decisions. But flying the Pride flag over the state Capitol this month was not one of them. A flag that stands for justice, equality and love will always make California proud.

For the rest of Pride month, all Californians can look up to the top of their Capitol building and know that their state does not just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it. All the colors on the Pride flag remind us what makes California great: our remarkable capacity to live together and advance together across every conceivable difference.

There is not a school or a workplace in the state of California that is not enriched by the contributions of LGBTQ people. We recognize those contributions during Pride month and every month. In California, we will always defend their right to live their lives out loud.

The flag also reminds us that the state of California has written more than a few chapters in the history of the LGBTQ movement in America. The Pride flag was first flown in San Francisco at the Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration in 1978—designed by a young activist named Gilbert Baker, at the suggestion of Harvey Milk. In the decades that followed, generations of activists and allies in our state pushed our nation toward justice for the LGBTQ community.

It is the courage of these extraordinary Californians that allowed me to take a big step forward in the march toward equality. As mayor of San Francisco in 2004, I directed our city to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in the state of California. I'll never forget Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first couple in line. Their courage as out, proud lesbians personifies the very best of our state.

But we know that progress isn't always linear. Back in 1990, in an act of visibility and defiance, a group of California legislators and activists managed to fly the rainbow flag over the Capitol to commemorate National Coming Out Day. The sitting governor ordered that the "gay flag" be removed after just a few hours.

Today, LGBTQ people still face an unacceptable level of discrimination and violence here in the U.S. and around the world. Forces of hatred and division are threatening to roll back the progress we've made in marriage equality and fair treatment in health care, housing, education and more.

The Pride flag flying over our Capitol reminds us to celebrate how far we have come and strengthen ourselves for how far we have to go.

As we celebrate Pride across this state, we remember that the struggle for dignity and equality is not the LGBTQ community's alone, as we continue to demand equal rights for everyone.

In the end, Pride Month recognizes what we all have in common: All of us want to love, and all of us want to be loved. California will always celebrate the love that unites us.

Gavin Newsom is the 40th and current governor of California, serving since January 2019. He previously served as the state's lieutenant governor and the mayor of San Francisco.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

Pride Parade Hollywood
Participants seen at the L.A. Pride Parade on June 9 in West Hollywood, California. Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty
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