In a significant move to celebrate and preserve LGBTQ+ history in the United States, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay Democrat hailing from Wisconsin and the chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, unveiled two noteworthy bills on Friday. These legislative proposals come as a fitting capstone to LGBTQ+ History Month, marking a momentous stride towards acknowledging and safeguarding the rich tapestry of LGBTQ+ heritage in the country.
Preserving LGBTQ+ History
One of these proposals centers on the formation of an eight-member commission, comprised of individuals with expertise in museum planning and LGBTQ+ research and culture. This commission is entrusted with the crucial task of investigating the feasibility of establishing a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History and Culture in the nation’s capital. Their responsibilities encompass devising a comprehensive plan of action and a fundraising strategy to sustain the museum through public contributions.
Moreover, the commission is tasked with conducting an independent review of the fundraising blueprint, ensuring a robust analysis of the required resources without reliance on federal funds. Additionally, they will scout potential locations in Washington, D.C., assess the potential impact on other museums in the region, and examine the availability and cost of acquiring collections for the museum. The commission’s findings will culminate in a legislative plan of action submitted to Congress, with considerations on whether the museum should operate under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The commission has a timeline of 18 months to complete this comprehensive study.
Preserving LGBTQ+ Heritage for Future Generations
Once the commission concludes its work and presents its recommendations, Congress will then have a solid foundation to consider the second bill, aimed at formally establishing the National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History and Culture. Rep. Pocan emphasizes the vital role of such a museum, especially in the face of what he perceives as unprecedented attempts to erase LGBTQ+ history and rights.
Rep. Pocan stated, “As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations.” He emphasized the importance of remembering the collective past and likened this initiative to museums dedicated to other communities, such as African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans. This endeavor seeks to recognize the LGBTQ+ community’s history, encompassing both its triumphs and challenges.
Strong Congressional Support
This initiative has garnered significant support from all eight LGBTQ+ co-chairs of the Equality Caucus, underlining its bipartisan nature. Representatives Mark Takano of California, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Robert Garcia of California, Becca Balint of Vermont, Ritchie Torres of New York, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Angie Craig of Minnesota, and Eric Sorensen of Illinois joined Rep. Pocan in introducing the legislation, reflecting a united effort to preserve and celebrate the LGBTQ+ heritage that is an integral part of American history.