The California State Senate passed a resolution on Monday commemorating June as Pride Month despite only one Republican senator participating in the vote.
Seven out of California's eight Republican senators were not involved in Monday's vote. The resolution passed without anyone voting in opposition.
Republicans said they objected to the invitation of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and drag queen Sister Roma. Roma is self-described as the "most photographed nun in the world."
"Frankly, it's a slap in the face to Catholics who cherish their faith and hold it as a cornerstone of their identity. Sister Roma and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence do not share the Senate's values of tolerance and understanding, and honoring them on the Senate Floor is simply inexcusable," Senate Republican Leader Brian Jones said. "Californians expect this legislative body to minimize distractions like Sister Roma's invitation and focus on tackling the countless issues that continue to go unresolved across the state. Senate Republicans stand ready to work with our Democrat colleagues to fix California."
Roma countered that her organization has the backing of religious groups and provides services to the community.
"We are actually nuns," Roma said. "We serve our community; we minister to the sick; we help the unhoused; we feed the hungry; we promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt. It's as simple as that."
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were originally disinvited from a Pride Night event with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the baseball club relented.
The controversy comes as a number of states have passed anti-drag legislation. It also comes as a number of drag events have been disrupted due to ongoing threats.
"Drag queens are not harming your children. We are not," Roma said. "Queer people, trans people are not groomers, we are not interested in converting people. We are interested in supporting people. So when someone has a child who doesn't identify as a cisgender child, maybe you have a little girl who asks you to call her a boy, or maybe have a little boy, he's getting bullied at school. Maybe you want to bring your child to a drag story hour where they can hear stories about love and inclusion and feel like just for one day that they're not a freak. That's really who we are at our core."
Multiple Democratic legislators noted the rising number of threats against LGBTQ+ groups. GLAAD estimates that 160 LGBTQ+ events and groups have been threatened in the last year. "This year, Pride Month occurs at a time of rising homophobia and transphobia across our great nation," said State Sen. Josh Becker. "The rise in hatred and extremism, the normalization of excluding LGBTQ folks who are deemed different, coincides with a rise in anti-Semitism and white supremacy. To imagine that these trends are separate would be to ignore history."
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