Filipinos Celebrate Marriage Equality Supreme Court Decision and Continue the Fight Towards Genuine Victory

June 26, 2015
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA,

GABRIELA USA joins LGBTQ rights defenders and advocates in celebrating the announcement of the Supreme Court decision to uphold marriage equality, ruling that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to legally marry in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This landmark victory would not have been possible without the decades long struggle of LGBTQ people, advocates, and supporters. While the Supreme Court decision is a major step forward in LGBTQ rights, we are a long way from genuine equality and justice.

Recently, trans Latina woman and transgender rights advocate Jennicet Gutiérrez made national headlines for interrupting President Barack Obama during the White House Pride reception. Obama’s swift silencing of Gutiérrez’s cries to release all transgender immigrants from detention and to stop all deportations highlights the glaring contradiction that while the Obama administration celebrates “LGBTQ rights” it continues to implement the systematic incarceration, detention, and violence against transgender immigrant people of color. Seventy five trans people are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) daily, 90% being trans women and 10% being trans men (Source: Approximation based on ICE estimates and demographic analysis from the Williams Institute at UCLA). Obama’s silencing of Gutiérrez highlights the historic silencing and erasure of trans women of color, their lives, their issues, and their struggles.

In early March of this year, GABRIELA Los Angeles marched together with Gutiérrez and FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (TQLM) in front of the Metropolitan Detention Center to demand the release of Nicoll Polanco, a 24-year old Guatemalan transgender woman being detained by ICE in an all-male facility Florence, AZ. Polanco has suffered nearly a decade of transphobic hate crimes in Guatemala and the U.S., including sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. We applaud Gutiérrez and FAMILIA for their continuous activism for trans immigrants like Nicoll who have been denied their freedom, dignity, and human rights. We affirm the urgency and truth behind Gutiérrez words crying out for justice from Obama who has deported over 2 million immigrants since 2008 and continues to detain immigrants in deplorable and inhumane conditions in for-profit facilities.

GABRIELA USA continues to stand with the LGBTQ community in the struggle for democratic rights. While the achievement of marriage equality is a historic victory, the fight against transphobia, hate crimes, bullying, and systemic violence must fiercely continue. We especially recognize and will continue to join the necessary struggle alongside our trans communities for basic human rights including housing, jobs, health care, genuine safety within our community and most especially liberation from state repression and violence.

During this Pride month, GABRIELA USA lifts up and celebrates the lives of all trans women who have been unjustly murdered, including the life of Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina woman beaten and strangled by U.S. Marine Private First Class Joseph Pemberton. The trial for Laude’s murder is still ongoing in the Philippines.

We call on our communities and supporters to join us in Trans Day of Actions all across the country in celebration of trans power, trans resistance, and trans lives! We recognize and salute the Trans women of color, including Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who fought back against police and led the Stonewall Riots in 1969. We will continue to fight for Trans Justice and for Trans Liberation!