Albany

Capital District Reclaim Pride event held in shadow of Supreme Court ruling

Max Burke, organizer of Capital District Reclaim Pride 2022, welcomes attendees to the event at Townsend Park Saturday. (Jason Subik)

Max Burke, organizer of Capital District Reclaim Pride 2022, welcomes attendees to the event at Townsend Park Saturday. (Jason Subik)

ALBANY — In keeping with the group’s “Pride, not Profit, Police or Politicians” slogan, the members of the Reclaim Pride Coalition met in Townsend Park Saturday to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month without any corporate sponsors to pay for the festival, without any pandering public officials to give speeches and without any police to provide protection.

One thing the group wasn’t without, however, was fear.

“I am scared and furious,” said Reclaim Pride organizer Max Burke.

The Capital District Reclaim Pride 2022 event was held in the wake of Friday’s 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, eliminating any constitutional right to an abortion and relegating regulation of that right to the states or a federal law passed by Congress.

Attendees of the Reclaim Pride event seemed rocked by the decision.

“It’s a terrible thing that’s happening,” Burke said. “Because, obviously, reproductive rights are being taken away from so many people, including so many queer individuals, and because, the really terrifying thing to me, is, more likely than not, it is just the first step, because Roe v. Wade set protections that have been used for so many other things that the right to privacy codified. It allowed anti-sodomy laws to be taken off of the books. It allowed us to get married, to do so much.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion supporting the majority opinion, wrote that the Supreme Court should also reconsider other past Supreme Court cases decided on the basis of due process, such as: Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled ‘sodomy laws’ against anal and oral sex were unconstitutional, Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled the constitution protects the right to buy and use contraceptives without government intervention.

“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote after referencing Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.

Burke, who said they discovered they were non-binary a few years after they completed their contract as an E4 enlisted airman in the U.S. Air Force, said they’re fearful for what the future may bring to members of the LGBTQ community.

“Now that that dam of Roe v. Wade is gone, the flood waters are going to come,” Burke said.

One of the speakers at the event, who said her name is Fern Rees, of Albany, said she is also nonbinary, and she’s worried that the same political movement in favor of taking reproductive rights away from women is working to take away rights from trans women. She said she was part of the first Reclaim Pride event in Albany in 2019.

“We’re not trying to take away from other Pride events, as much as we’re trying to say we want events focused on our well being, and not just trying to create awareness,” Rees said. “We’re just trying to create a space for ourselves.”

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