Waiving rainbow colored mini-flags and draping the same colors in parts of the Office of the Governor’s press conference room table, members of LGBT community and supporters joined Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog on Friday to declare June 24 to June 30 as “CNMI Pride Week.”
Torres is the first governor to proclaim such a week and he told reporters afterward he wanted to acknowledge and pay tribute to the “unfortunate” situation in Orlando, Florida, refering to where with recent mass shooting that left 49 dead in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“Time has moved on,” Torres said. “It’s time for us to acknowledge and respect one another.”
“Whoever one chooses to love or be with, I believe as a communtiy we are so loving in hospitality, we need to give that extra effort to respect one another.
“For our proclamation this whole week, our message is just to respect each other, respect who we love” and know “that’s their choice,” the governor added.
LGBT advocate Frankie Elliptico and event organizer said because of the Typhoon Soudelor last year they had to postpone many of big events like a pride celebration or pride party.
Their Pride Night on Friday was to pay tribute to the victims of those who perished in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, he said.
It’s also to celebrate folks from all walks to life, he added.
“Celebrating one community as well as making sure everybody has an avenue to feel safe and to feel loved,” Elliptico said.
The proclamation, signed by Torres on Friday, remembers the Orlando victims and others taken away by senseless and hate-fueled violence around the world, adding that CNMI stands united in love and unity with these victims and their families.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have made, and continue to make, important and lasting contributions to the local community, the proclamation says and notes that even though more LGBT individuals in the CNMI are living their lives more openly and more happily than ever before, there remains much to be done to raise awareness about LGBT individuals and issues.
“Despite the progress made nationally to expand LGBT rights, LGBT individuals still face many difficulties and prejudice; in fact, data gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirms that, nationally, LGBT individuals are the targets of violent hate crimes more often than any other minority.”
“Research shows that LGBT youth in the U.S. are nearly twice as likely to be bullied, called names, harassed, physically assaulted, or discriminated at school, work, and in their communities compared to their non-LGBT counterparts,” it reads.
“The Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands is proud of the diversity of its population of its LGBT individuals” and it is “committed to ensuring that all minority groups in the CNMI, including LGBT individuals, continue to thrive as individuals and continue to make valuable contributions to society.”
“…With this declaration, our community can be empowered to shut the door on prejudice and discrimination, and further open the gates to more acceptance of every individual’s unique traits and talents, and strengthen equality in our Commonwealth.”
The proclamation comes in line with President Barack Obama’s presidential directive proclaiming June as LGBT Pride Month.