Rally Before Pride Celebration in West Hartford Calls for Action to Preserve Human Rights

Originally posted by We-Ha.com – West Hartford Pride hosted “much more than a party” Saturday, as the tagline promised.

But before the celebration, there was a call to action – an “Out Loud!” rally with a message that was even more urgent coming the day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights on a federal level.

Johanna Schubert, co-chair of West Hartford Pride, emceed the rally, noting that Barry Walters, the other co-chair, had been instrumental in the planning but was unfortunately unable to participate due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

“[The decision] by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and take away a person’s right to autonomy over their own bodies and thus their own quality of life and lifestyle took my breath away,” Schubert said.

“The inability to access safe abortion affects not only cisgender women but also trans men and non-binary people, pushing a vulnerable community further to the fringes of an already fraught healthcare system. At West Hartford Pride, we in a person’s body autonomy and will do our best to connect people with safe and affirming health care,” she said.

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor told the crowd of well over 100 people who braved the hot sun and gathered in front of Town Hall steps Saturday morning that they are fortunate to live in Connecticut. “We are just incredibly lucky to have wonderful leaders,” she said, noting that while she was incredibly furious about the Supreme Court’s decision, she praised our state legislators and the governor who guaranteed protection for patients who travel to Connecticut to seek abortion care form a state that has outlawed it. Gov. Ned Lamont signed Public Act 22-19, which also expands the types of practitioners who can provide certain types of abortion care, on May 10.

“Happy Pride, West Hartford. Happy ‘be who you were born to be’ West Hartford,” state Rep. Kate Farrar said, pointing to the words on her shirt: “Love is Love.”

Farrar said she was so proud to join together Saturday in “allyship, as accomplices, and as champions for our community,” and what is possible has been shown in Connecticut.

“It’s very easy to feel devastated, angry, heartbroken, but we’ve shown here in Connecticut what is possible. … We’ve shown what is possible when we celebrate love, when we celebrate human rights,” said Farrar. “We only got to today because of what we’ve done together, and we’re only going to fight forward because of what is possible together.”

U.S. Rep. John Larson also addressed the crowd, with a greeting of “Happy Pride, stand up West Hartford. Stand up Connecticut.”

He expressed his thanks to local and state leaders, but said that real change needs to come in the Senate, where the filibuster and cloture vote are a barrier to progress. One chamber should not be allowed to have the control it does, and he said the Senate has blocked more than 400 bills from consideration.

“There is nowhere in the United States Constitution that says it takes 60 votes to pass a bill,” Larson said as the crowd cheered and applauded.

“Russia, China, a global pandemic, Middle East terrorists … are not as big a threat to this democratic republic as is the filibuster and the cloture vote,” Larson said. “Vote, so that the American people can then judge on accountability who is with them and who is not.”