At the start of the 52nd commemoration of the Stonewall riots, the first openly gay state attorney general said there is plenty to celebrate this Pride Month, while also recognizing the work still left in the fight to advance LGBTQ+ equality.
"I am always both heartened by how far we have come and also really mindful of the work that we still need to do across this country so that people really feel equality as it is meant to be felt both under the law and in society," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Tuesday on CBSN.
"We are on a path towards greater equality," she said. "We will get there someday."
Healey mentioned the historic LGBTQ+ representation seen in President Joe Biden's administration as milestones to celebrate. Openly LGBTQ+ people working in the current administration include Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, and White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre — who last week became the first openly gay person to hold a White House press briefing.
"Seeing is believing," Healey said. "The way that we actually develop the most informed laws and policies and regulations for our government, whether it is the local, state or federal level, is by having a government that truly reflects the people that it is there to serve."
Healey, who also serves as co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, said she has seen firsthand the impact LGBTQ+ representation in government has on the gay community.
"When I'm out and about and I meet a young person from the LGBTQ community and they or their parents come up and say: 'Hey, you give us hope. You make me think that I can be or do anything I want to be.' That is because they see someone doing something that for a while seemed to be off-limits or unobtainable," Healey said.
The chief lawyer mentioned that LGBTQ+ youth suffer at disproportionately higher rates of suicide, homelessness and COVID-19. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "LGBTQ youth are particularly at risk for mental health disorders because they face many adversities, including bullying, difficulty coming out to friends and family members, hate crimes, lack of support, and fear of stigma and discrimination."
Healey vowed to fight for them as attorney general.
"Just stay strong and believe in yourself," she said. "As we look back to history, draw on inspiration and energy from those who have come before, who have persevered and have overcome, and think about that and use that to affirm who you are."
Healey came into office in 2015 and is up for reelection in 2022. Before becoming Massachusetts attorney general, she played professional basketball in Austria.
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