July 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm EST | by Kevin Naff
LGBT 50th anniversary kicks off in Philly
Jim Obergefell, Malcolm Lazin, LGBT 50th, gay news, Washington Blade

James Obergefell and Malcolm Lazin at a wreath laying commemorating the “Annual Reminders” protests near Independence Hall. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

PHILADELPHIA — The LGBT 50th Anniversary Weekend, a commemoration of one of the first gay rights protests that occurred in 1965 at Independence Hall, kicked off Thursday with a wreath laying near the site of the original protests.

Three of the original protesters were present as James Obergefell, lead plaintiff in last week’s marriage equality cases, laid a wreath at a historic marker near Independence Hall.

Obergefell posed for pictures, greeted supporters and spoke to the media on a sidewalk crowded with July 4th tourists.

Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum and lead organizer of the LGBT 50th celebration, spoke of the significance of the “annual reminders” protests, noting they started years before the more famous Stonewall Riots in New York.

“It was the organizing skills of Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings that brought us all here today,” Lazin said, referring to the chief protest organizers. “They are the mother and father of the gay rights movement.”

Philadelphia’s Gay Pioneers Historical Marker denotes Independence Hall as where the organized LGBT civil rights movement was galvanized with gay picketing demonstrations (“Annual Reminders”) for equality each July 4, from 1965 to 1969.

The wreath laying was just the first of a series of events taking place all weekend. For more information visit lgbt50th.org.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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