May 29, 2013 at 11:41 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Latino GLBT History Project to hold 7th annual Pride
Latino Pride, Latino GLBT History Project, gay news, Washington Blade

One of last year’s Latino Pride events at Town Danceboutique (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

The ongoing immigration debate will provide the backdrop for the seventh annual D.C. Latino Pride that will take place at various locations throughout the city from May 30-June 6.

Unid@s Director Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera will moderate a panel co-organized by the Latino GLBT History Project and the D.C. Latino Pride Advisory Committee on how the issue impacts LGBT Latinos. James Ferg-Cadima of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Dilicia Molina of La Clínica del Pueblo are among those who will take part in the event on Thursday at the Human Rights Campaign.

Marco Antonio Quiroga, an undocumented gay immigrant who works for Immigration Equality, and Valerie Villalta, a trans advocate who received asylum in the U.S. in 2009 after she fled from her native El Salvador to D.C., will also discuss the issue.

The panel will take place nine days after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that did not include amendments that would have allowed gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for residency and permitted married same-sex couples to apply for marriage-based green cards.

“Not only were our LGBT families painfully left behind, but politicians used my family as an excuse for discrimination,” Quiroga wrote in a May 24 post to Immigration Equality’s website. “When politicians and pundits talk about the Latino community and the gay community as separate communities, they exclude me. They exclude my family. This false separation hurts our communities.”

Members of the Latino GLBT History Project were among the tens of thousands of people who rallied for comprehensive immigration reform outside the U.S. Capitol last month. The group also worked with CASA de Maryland and Equality Maryland last year on a campaign designed to garner additional support for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Both ballot measures passed during last November’s referendum.

“As an LGBT Latino group, immigration reform is very important to us,” David Pérez, president of the Latino GLBT History Project, told the Washington Blade.

In addition to the immigration panel, D.C. Latino Pride will also hold a bilingual Mass at Metropolitan Community Church in Northwest Washington on June 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. Joe El Especialista of El Zol 107.9 will deejay a party at Town on June 6 that Candy Citron from the Spanish-language radio station’s Pedro Biaggi en la Mañana program will emcee.

Founded by José Gutierrez in 2000, the Latino GLBT History Project has staged its annual D.C. Latino Pride for seven years. It also celebrated its eighth annual Hispanic LGBT Heritage Awards in 2012.

This year’s D.C. Latino Pride will also take place against the backdrop of a series of LGBT-specific advances that have taken place in countries throughout Latin America over the last several months.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice on May 14 ruled registrars cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Gays and lesbians in neighboring Uruguay can begin to tie the knot in August. The Colombian Senate last month overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, but they can begin to register their relationships on June 20 if lawmakers fail to act upon a 2011 ruling from the South American country’s highest court that mandated them to pass legislation within two years that extends the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage to same-sex couples.

The Mexican Supreme Court in February released its decision that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Justices with the same tribunal a few weeks later announced a ruling that found anti-gay slurs are not protected speech under Mexico’s constitution.

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in May 2012 signed a law that allows people who have not undergone sex-reassignment surgery to legally change their gender without a doctor or judge’s approval.

“Pride is a really exciting time of the year where we can all celebrate our culture, our identity,” Pérez said. “There are definitely many reasons to celebrate LGBT equality and great activities and legislation that’s passing throughout Latin America as well as to renew our commitment to continue to fight for LGBT equality for equal treatment under the law for all Latinos here in the United States and in many of our members’ home countries throughout Latin America.”

Groups to hold alternate Latino Pride

Eleven groups, including Casa Ruby, the D.C. Center and other LGBT rights organizations, on Tuesday announced they plan to hold an alternate Latino Pride celebration that will take place at various locations throughout the metropolitan area from June 4-9.

Pérez disputed Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado’s claims that the Latino GLBT History Project left her group and others out of this year’s Pride celebrations.

“Casa Ruby was invited to be part of the advisory committee, but decided not to participate,” he said.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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