FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — It’s been a week since Dickson Street was filled with thousands of people celebrating Pride month. Several businesses along Dickson St. are still flying rainbow flags in solidarity.
Pride month is a time to recognize how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in the fight for equality, and what work still needs to be done.
“It could be described as nothing short of a gut punch,” said Michael Bennett-Spear, Program Director for the Equality Crew, when he heard the news that Roe vs. Wade is officially overturned.
It was a gut punch, but he said it wasn’t a surprise since the nation realized what would be coming when the court’s opinions were leaked at the beginning of May. He said the court’s decision impacts the LGBTQ+ community directly.
“Up to 30% of trans men report experiencing unintentional pregnancy,” he said. “Lesbian and bisexual women sexual assault is at a higher rate, with trans people experiencing a sexual assault at up to four times the rate of general population.”
“I was glad it was gonna be sent back to the States,” said Republican State Representative Robin Lundstrum, District 87. “That’s where it needed to be.”
She said one of her first jobs out of graduate school was working in a crisis facility. She saw rape victims in the hospital and worked to educate people about what she saw.
Arkansas currently doesn’t have an exemption for victims of rape or incest in its abortion trigger law. She said she would need look at any legislation proposing that exemption before she could vote one way or the other, but she said we still need to look at other avenues to help victims of rape.
“I don’t think it’s the baby, we don’t need another victim,” she said. “I think we need to get rape victims, to the hospitals so that they get the morning after pill and they get the medication that they need.”
She also wants people to know more about the resources and laws already on the books in Arkansas, such as the Victims of Crime Act, which she said helps cover the medical costs associated with sexual assault.
She said parents also need to start having conversations with their teens.
“Abortion is not birth control,” she said. “We need to have honest discussions. We have birth control medication available, it’s 2022. We know where babies come from. We need to have honest conversations at the kitchen table with our teens about appropriate behavior.”
With Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas saying in his concurring opinion on Roe V. Wade that other rights need to be looked at to be overturned, such as same-sex marriage, there’s a lot of concern about the future for the LGBTQ+ community.
“It was an interpretation of the 14th Amendment that led to the overturning of Roe V. Wade,” said Bennett-Spears. “That same logic could be used to undo my marriage, and worse case scenario, actually lead to the criminalization of our very existence.”
The Equality Crew said it’s doors are open for those looking for resources, or maybe just a shoulder to cry on right now.