AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Normally during the month of June, Augusta Pride would be celebrating the month of Pride at the Common downtown. But that’s not the case due to the pandemic. However, the LGBT community is still celebrating a pretty significant milestone and that’s the five year anniversary of legalized gay marriage.
“We have a large community of individuals with health risks and we did not want to make them come out,” said Augusta Pride President James Mintz. “Our Pride Festival is one of the largest avenues here in the CSRA where people can get free HIV testing, have 80 to 100 vendors that are LGBT friendly.”
While a public celebration is on hold, gay rights activists privately celebrate the June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Mintz replied, “We just want to be equal with our neighbors, our friends, our family members because we’re a part of your community as well.”
With the recent high court ruling stating that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits LGBT people from being discriminated against on their jobs, Mintz said he and others are getting closer to progress. Same-sex couples have shown just that on the economic front. A new study by UCLA School of Law estimates that 293,000 same-sex couples have married in the past five years. State and local economies saw a $3.8 billion dollar boom.
“One of my best friends got married to her wife who I introduced several years ago. And it was a simple courthouse wedding. It was just beautiful. Just a couple years prior, they wouldn’t have been able to do that. She was able to get on her partner’s health care plans. That’s another issue that’s affecting us right now,” he said.
President Mintz also said that the public can expect to see something bigger and better for next year’s pride month.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps