Why not add Gypsies to the Pride Parade?

Timothy Kincaid

July 23rd, 2015

Suppose that the Roma community (better known as “Gypsies”*) approached the organizers of Gay Pride parades and proposed that the events be changed to the Gay and Gypsies Pride events. Like the gay community, they explain, Gypsies have been excluded and discriminated against and treated with contempt. Even the name “Gypsy” has become a pejorative term thrown around at people who are not Romani so as to insult them.

After all, it’s not like gays still need to fight for marriage or military or family rights. And there are so many commonalities between the two communities that it just makes sense that the parades, demonstrations, and festivals advocating for gay inclusion should now focus on Gypsy inclusion. And since we’ve accomplished so much, it’s the Gypsies’ time.

Now many of us can empathize with the plight of the Roma people. Theirs has been a long tough row to hoe. But as for changing Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride? I’m sure the answer would be a unanimous No. We have a sense of ownership and history and shared experiences and our remembrance of the Stonewall uprising has special meaning to us.

Nevertheless, many Roma people may feel that they are being rejected and disrespected and treated with contempt. Yet again, ugly anti-Gypsy animus has raised its head.

Now this is a very far-fetched scenario. The Roma are extremely unlikely to want to join up with the LGBT community and be equal partners at our festivals and parades.

But I propose this thought-exercise for a reason.

Currently before Congress is the Equality Act, which is designed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” Specifically, it seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 thusly:

SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.


SEC. 202. All persons shall be entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, if such discrimination or segregation is or purports to be required by any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, or order of a State or any agency or political subdivision thereof.

The bill goes on to similarly revise Sections 301, 401, 410, 601, 701, 703, 704, 706, 717, and so on.

It would also add to the list of service providers prohibited from such discrimination:

(4) any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services;
(5) any train service, bus service, car service, taxi service, airline service, station, depot, or other place of or establishment that provides transportation service;

And clarifies that

A reference in this title to an establishment—
(1) shall be construed to include an individual whose operations affect commerce and who is a provider of a good, service, or program; and
(2) shall not be construed to be limited to a physical facility or place.

(In other words, this bill will specifically include unincorporated individuals who bake wedding cakes or arrange flowers from their home on a part-time basis.)

In addition to the above, the bill changes law relating to credit application and jury selection. But the primary provisions are the revision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This bill will be opposed. Under Congress’ current configuration, it has very little chance of passing.

Some will oppose the bill because they believe that homosexuality is a trait that should be discouraged and that anti-gay discrimination is advantageous to society. Some may oppose the bill out of unexamined discomfort, animus, bigotry, or prejudice. Some libertarian minded people may see this bill as a step too far, one which disregards the rights of the individual to autonomy and self-determination.

But I believe that there will be an opposition to this bill which will be – at least initially – misunderstood. I believe that a sizable portion of the African-American community will oppose this bill for reasons that may be mistaken as animus but which hold a different basis altogether.

For Black Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a near-sacred document. It has context and history and is closely tied in the minds of African Americans to slavery, Jim Crow laws, oppression, and anti-Black bigotry. The African American community has an emotional ownership in this piece of legislation.

And it may feel as though something is being taken from them, lack of respect is being shown for their history, and that gays are ‘latching-on’ to the Black Civil Rights Movement. A group that has not shared their history and which does not experience their lives is now saying “us, too”.

This is going to sit poorly with some African American leaders. Perhaps many of them. I think it even possible (though unlikely) that the Congressional Black Caucus may oppose this proposed revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And some in our community will be offended. They may be tempted to see it as yet another evidence of animus and anti-gay bigotry. Another “now that they got theirs” situation.

We should resist that temptation.

We should instead be respectful of the emotional ownership with which Black Americans hold this Act and the reasons behind it. Whether or not revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may be the best method through which to deal with anti-gay discrimination, let’s be careful to approach this bill with a recognition of the feelings and history of others.

After all, opposition to this bill by black leaders may be similar, in many ways, to how opposition would be within our community to revising Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride. Less animus than a sense of personal ownership.

(* use of the term Gypsy is not meant be offensive. Although some consider Gypsy to be a pejorative term, that is a term many Romi use for themselves and is used in law. In some ways it mirrors the word Gay and how it is used by society)

Patrick Hogan

July 23rd, 2015

I think your point is one we should keep in mind when responding to opposition, but the analogy you presented breaks down in several ways.

First, the civil rights act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, sex and national origin as well as race. If there were seperate, parallel bills for each of those categories, then it would be appropriate to consider an attempt to amend the racial civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity through your analogy; but there’s only one law prohibiting discrimination on a number of categories, so excluding sexual orientation and gender identity has nothing to do with protecting the legacy of racial civil rights. A more appropriate analogy, in this case, would be the Saint Patrick’s day parades that allow any Irish group except gay and lesbian groups to march–they’re not protecting their legacy by excluding us.

Second, there is a vast discerned between a parade and a law. If black civil rights groups don’t want to include non-black LGBT groups in parades, celebrations, etc. Regarding racial civil rights victories, i think we would all support them in that. With laws, though: part of the advantage of amending an existing law to be more inclusive is that, by virtue of using not only identical language but even an identical law, it becomes self-evident that we are seeking equal–not special–rights, and it minimizes the risk that one law or the other will be interpreted differently despite identical or substantially similar language.

In short: although we should be sensitive to the feelings you describe, neither dismissive nor hostile to those who feel that way, I think that pushing forward with the amendment–or an inclusive civil rights bill that applies to all protected categories, effectively replacing the civil rights act of 1964 while leaving it on the books as a sort of legal memorial–still makes the most sense, and I think we should respond to opposition on the grounds you describe by laying out the legal, logical and social case for a comprehensive civil rights bill rather than patchwork bills that only apply to a subset of classes.

Timothy (TRiG)

July 23rd, 2015


Pride is an event, a commemoration, a protest, a celebration. This is a law. They’re fundamentally different things. And it already mentions both race and religion. And, in most countries, the term Civil Rights is used broadly. (Not that I expect that last remark to hold much weight: one of the less endearing traits of Americans is their absolute refusal to learn from the experiences of others. (This is actually a trait shared by most humans, but only Americans seem to be proud of it.))

Of course, different places have different histories and different problems. Our anti-discrimination legislation here in Ireland specifically mentions membership of the Travelling community as a ground on which one is not permitted to discriminate. I doubt any American law would bother to mention that. And in the North, they ban discrimination on the basis of political views, because of the long history of Nationalist vs Unionist discrimination.



July 23rd, 2015

IOW, we should concede the Oppression Olympics to African Americans? IMHO, no one wins the fight over which group had it worse – and I’m guessing people like RuPaul, Wanda Sykes and Janet Mock might be able to school some of the African American leaders on the intersection of race and gender/sexual orientation.

Priya Lynn

July 23rd, 2015

I had no problem with the Gypsy gay pride parade idea as you were explaining it and I consider it unacceptable to say gays can’t or shouldn’t be included in the civil rights act.

You’ve given an extremely poor justification for your proposal.


July 23rd, 2015

I have no problem with a circumstance where a Gay Pride parade is not allowed to discriminate against an ethnic group.

I think you’re begging the question by characterising non-discrimination as demanding the parade become Gay and Gypsies Pride. As it stands, racial discrimination is banned in the U.S. and no Gay Pride event has been forced to label itself LGBT, African-American, Latino, Chinese, Native American, et al, Pride.

Not being able to exclude those groups has proved no worthwhile impediment to rights as far as I can determine.


July 24th, 2015

Ah, ok, so black people have no problem seeing Hispanics, muslims, and women included under their bill, but when they take issue with a fag degrading their precious document by associating sin with it, it’s a problem.


July 24th, 2015

It would help to point out to black people who oppose the bill that one of its sponsors is John Lewis, a black congressman who fought for black civil rights and has always fought for gay rights.

Heh, I also realize: if this bill passes, would it cover adoption agencies? If so, wouldn’t this bill be the last necessary protection for LGBT people? This could be a great argument: “Just pass this bill and that’ll be it!”

Richard Rush

July 24th, 2015

I have no problem with gay gypsies or gay-supportive gypsies being included in a gay pride parade. And, likewise, there should be no problem with civil-rights-deprived gay people being included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which already includes race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Our inclusion would merely correct an oversight that could not be perceived 51 years ago.

If African Americans think they have a de facto copyright on the concept of civil rights, then why are religion and sex already on the list? Sometimes, excessive deference can be as racist as discrimination.


July 24th, 2015

My thanks to all the commenters so far for the very well-considered and well-stated points.

I agree with Timothy that we should be slow to label our opponents as bigots – even when they wander into that territory. We should do the harder work of pointing out flaws in their arguments and inconsistencies in their theologies rather than name-calling.

That said, I think Lucrece summed up the issue perfectly.


July 24th, 2015

The Civil Rights Bill has other problems facing it, after the overturning of voting rights protections. We all ought to be concerned about roadblocks to voting.

The current Equality bill doesn’t stand a chance of passage in the current House and Senate. Its purpose is to highlight the fact (not known by a large number of non-LGBT) that there are no protections for employment and housing discrimination, and to get the Republicans on record as opposing equal employment and housing for LGBT people. Same-gender marriage makes some people uncomfortable, but far fewer general-election voters are anxious to endorse employment discrimination.

Ben in Oakland

July 24th, 2015

I really have to disagree with you on this one, Timothy. Your analogy is a bad one.

This is a somewhat edited version of a discussion I was having at Religion News service. Person A etc. are all conservative, antigay Christians, upset with the idea that discrimination against black people and discrimination against gay people are totally different things.

Person A: Blacks need to separate their experiences with discrimination from the gay claim that they are analogous with theirs. Blacks never had to advertise their identity, their skin color spoke for them. Gays do need to inform someone publicly that they are gay and they “want this”. This label sparks an immediate ideation of the individual, right or wrong. Color of skin has no Biblical grounds to use as a defense to discriminate. Homosexuality certainly does.

ME: Spoken from ignorance, the perspective of a white heterosexual Christian man, and with a deft change of subject thrown in.

I always find it amusing when racial hatred refuses to share a drinking fountain with The Geyz, claiming the gold medal in the Oppression Olympics. Of course some black people don’t think that gay oppression is the same as black oppression. They are not exactly the same, but like all bigotries, there is a great deal that is shared.

The real reason is that they would then have to give up the coveted position of having a whole class of people beneath them, their wholly imaginary superiority to people they have been taught to despise.

I am always amazed when I hear a black person saying that the systematic legal oppression and disadvantaging that black people suffered for centuries is totally unlike the systematic legal oppression and disadvantaging that gay people have suffered.

No black kid has ever been kicked out of his family for being black. No black kid has ever had to sit in his church and be told that god loves him, but hates him for being black.

In no state can a black person be legally fired for being black or for putting a photo of his black wife on his desk. In 29 states, if your employer is an antigay bigot who fires you for being gay, you have no legal recourse.

You’re quite incorrect about gay people having to “announce”, or else where did the stereotypes of gay men and lesbians come from? Many people can’t hide it, and more than some black people can’t lighten their skin. Kids get beat up on the playground for being gay, long before anybody’s gaydar goes off, long before they could announce themselves. I know, because I used to be that kid.

Here’s your change of subject: from the perpetrators to the victims. It is exactly about civil rights– the right to be treated without discrimination by your government, and the insistence by our government that society reflect and support the principle of equal treatment before the law.

The two bigotries actually have a lot in common. There is an undeniable parallel to the sexually compelling aspect of black people under Jim Crow, and the rhetoric of the antigay Christian right. Black men, like gay men, especially were libeled with the stereotype of being morally and sexually bankrupt, sexually immature, predatory, aggressive sexually obsessed. For black men, there was the assumption that they were unnaturally and obsessively attracted to white women, so the only solution would be this: Jim Crow had to be strictly enforced.

For gay men: we have the very same unnatural and obsessive attraction to boys and straight men. White men found black women sexually compelling and abandoned, unlike white women. There was a lot of curiosity “for what it would be like. The same thing is true about gay women: Lesbian porn isn’t made for women, but for straight men.

There is no compromise to equality. None at all. I should not have to have this conversation with a black man. A black man should know the spiritual damage caused by being dehumanized and sexually stereotyped. Nor should I have to have this conversation with a white, heterosexual, conservative Christian male. you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. When you have to hide YOUR life, you can tell me how I ought to hide mine.

Person B: “Ben, I have to disagree with your assertion that the Bible teaches that black people are inferior. Nothing in it makes such an assertion.”

ME: you are changing the subject, from what THEY SAID the bible says and how THEY JUSTIFIED slavery, segregation, and miscegenation laws to what YOU THINK the bible says and how it DOESN’T JUSTIFY them.

Not the same thing at all.

It doesn’t matter whether they had any justification for it according to your beliefs. They had it according to theirs.

this will be the THIRD TIME I posted this link. Have you listened to it? http://philsnider.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/city-council-speech/

Here is JUST ONE quote: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” — Judge Leon M. Bazile, January 6, 1959 loving v. Virginia

Google “justifying racial segregation with the bible”. you’ll get nearly 4 MILLION hits on this subject.


This is back to me in the present:

My point is this: There is absolutely no reason on earth why we shouldn’t be included in the Civil rights Act. It for bids discrimination on the basis of religious belief. Antigay so-called Christians want to discriminate against us on the basis of religious belief. End of story.

Last year, olson and Boies were in san Francisco last year promoting their book on marriage equality. I asked them this question:

We forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief at every level of government. Why isn’t this being used in the fight against the marriage bans, so clearly religiously motivated, as well as the fight FOR anti-discrimination bans, when so much of these are being promoted on the basis of religious belief?

Their answer was so vague and wishy washy that I almost regretted buying their book. I still haven’t been able to pick it up and read it. Basically, they said, “Well, it’s implied in many of our arguments.”

Implied? Goddam IMPLIED? Exactly what use is IMPLIED? Why isn’t it a major talking point?

For these two reasons, racial and religious, I have to disagree with your analogy and your position. That being said, I don’t care if it is included in the Civil rights Act, or goes as a standalone.

I just want it passed.


July 24th, 2015

Why don’t the Gypsies just have their own parade. It seems like they’re combining unrelated things.

Gene in L.A.

July 24th, 2015

Timothy was saying “what if.” The Romani have not asked anyone to change Pride celebrations in any way. I think your response helps to point up the danger both in such casual supposing and in reading an article too superficially. This could lead to the spreading of a rumor that such a request has in fact been made. Pride has always been inclusive, just as the Civil Rights Act, whatever the immediate impetus for its creation, was never intended to pertain only to any one ethnic or religious demography.

Priya Lynn

July 24th, 2015

This idea that gays should have a standalone civil rights act so that it doesn’t taint the 1964 civil rights act reminds me of when people argued gays could have civil unions with all the rights of marriage so they didn’t need to be married.

Gene in L.A.

July 25th, 2015

And yet, as we’ve seen again and again, there are too many people who think exclusively instead of inclusively; if they don’t see a certain demography mentioned in a law they assume, and then try to enforce that assumption, that those people are not in fact included in the law. Remember, until gay couples began to request marriage licenses, there were no written laws against same-sex marriage. Seeing those first attempts, the exclusionists began panicking–for whatever legal, political or “moral” reasons they had–and passing such laws. For awhile they won, but finally the Court said no, you can’t do that. The point is, those exclusionary forces make it necessary to be specific about who is the recipient of those “unalienable rights.”

Mark F.

July 27th, 2015

It seems to me that Democrats are just using this issue as a recruiting/ vote getting tool, as it is obvious to anyone who knows political reality that such an inclusive and overreaching bill has zero chances of actually passing. Rather than propose a compromise which might attract some Republican support, they are content to just do a lot of posing and political grandstanding. These people remind me of Republicans opposing the ACA, and taking votes which are just political theater.

With 40 votes able to block a bill in the Senate, such legislation would have virtually no chance of passing EVEN if Clinton gets elected and Congress has a Democratic majority again.

The people proposing this law are not serious people.

Chris McCoy

July 28th, 2015

Mark F, what do you propose a compromise bill would look like in order to gain Republican support?

enough already

August 5th, 2015

I so seldom agree with Timothy, I guess it makes sense that, on an occasion on which I find myself in total agreement with him, nearly all the regular commentators here are in disagreement.

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