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Baltimore City

Baltimore Pride returns with a sense of excitement and sadness after Roe overturned

Baltimore’s Pride Parade marked a joyous reunion for the queer community Saturday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While attendees danced and cheered as the parade marched by, some expressed concern over the future of gay rights given recent opinions from the Supreme Court.

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People from all walks of life, many dressed in pride colors and carrying pride flags filled North Charles Street and its sidewalks between North Avenue and the Johns Hopkins University to watch or participate in the parade. Many shouted “Happy Pride!” as revelers walked by.

Hosted by the Pride Center of Maryland, Baltimore Pride 2022 was expected to bring 50,000 people from throughout the region to Baltimore for a week of events that ended Sunday, according to the organization’s website. Jack French, a spokesman in the mayor’s office, said Monday the city was working on getting a firm count, but attendance was in the thousands.

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The theme this year was “Together Again” and celebrated the first in-person Pride gathering since 2019. Organizers said they expected the event to be the most diverse in history.

“Right now, we need this more than ever,” Ari Hamilton-Gery, marketing chair for Baltimore Pride, adding that news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion, was devastating. “Our entire community is going into this day as this is why we’re doing this.”

Democratic politicians and LGBTQ activists worry that overturning Roe may have a domino effect on civil rights policies granted by the Supreme Court.

Justice Clarence Thomas confirmed this fear Friday when he issued a concurring opinion, saying the court “should reconsider” landmark cases on contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

He wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” These three cases deal with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process and equal protection rights.

“I am not a fan of how he interpreted (the position), how he claims that now, many other decisions can be up for debate,” said Murat Bilgel, who attended Pride with his husband and carried a sign that read “Abort the court.”

His husband, Mike Harmon, an attorney, has a stronger stance.

“Essentially, time and time again, these right-wing conservative justices have testified under oath that they respected Roe as precedent. And really I think that’s grounds for impeachment,” he said. “They lied under oath.”

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Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the court’s majority opinion, repeatedly insists that the justices’ decision on Roe poses no threat to other precedents. And despite four other justices also assuring that Friday’s decision applied only to abortion rights, attendees at the Pride Parade felt worried now that Roe is gone.

The court’s liberal wing — justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — echoed the LGBTQ community’s concern, writing in their dissent that “no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work.”

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Past rulings on Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges and other cases that settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation “are all part of the same constitutional fabric” as Roe, they dissented.

The Maryland General Assembly legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, and the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the country in 2015.

“I think we’re going to fight back. It’s the voice of the people. They cannot make these decisions for us,” said Mickey Dhir. “I’m not afraid. I think as people (come) together, we have changed things in the past. And I think we’ll be able to do that now.”

Dhir, of Baltimore, won the High Heel Race that took place before the parade. Four runners lined up at 23rd Street and ran about two blocks slightly uphill. This race has been a tradition at Baltimore Pride. Dhir bolted to the front and finished first with a $100 cash prize.

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“I’m super excited to hang out with my friends. And colleagues,” Dhir said. “It’s been three years, a lot of things have changed. So I’m glad to be back here with people spending some time and having fun today.”

President Joe Biden, speaking from the White House Friday, expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Biden called Thomas’ concurring opinion “extreme and (a) dangerous path the court is now taking us on.”

For the record

This article has been updated to better reflect attendance at Baltimore Pride 2022. A city official said it numbered in the thousands. The Sun regrets the error.


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