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Democrats Introduce Bills to Create National LGBTQ+ History and Culture Museum

Representative Mark Pocan Smithsonian Institution building National Mall Washington DC
Images: instagram @repmarkpocan; Shutterstock

Legislation was introduced to establish a dedicated museum within the Smithsonian Institution, which garnered broad support from the Congressional Equality Caucus.


In a move to celebrate and preserve LGBTQ+ history in America, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay Democrat from Wisconsin and the chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus put forward two bills on Friday aimed at creating a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History and Culture.

These legislative proposals come as a fitting capstone to LGBTQ+ History Month, according to a news release.

One proposal entails the formation of an eight-member commission, infused with expertise in museum planning or LGBTQ+ research and culture, to investigate the feasibility of establishing such a significant institution in the nation’s capital. The commission is tasked with several key responsibilities, including devising a plan of action and a fundraising strategy to financially fuel the establishment, operation, and maintenance of the museum through public contributions.

Additionally, the commission will engage in an independent review of the fundraising blueprint to ensure a robust analysis of the resources required sans reliance on federal funds.

The commission is assigned to scout potential locations in Washington, D.C., estimate the regional impact on other museums, and examine the availability and cost of acquiring collections for the museum. A legislative plan of action for the museum’s establishment and construction will be submitted to Congress following the commission’s comprehensive study. The recommendations will also consider whether the museum should operate under the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex.

The timeline for the commission to complete its thorough investigation is 18 months.

Once the commission wraps up its work and issues its recommendations, Congress will then have the footing to consider the second bill, which is aimed at formally establishing the museum.

Pocan is adamant about the vital role of such a museum, especially in the face of what he perceives as unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase LGBTQ+ history.

“As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations,” Rep. Pocan said. “It is vital to remember our collective past – particularly when certain states, and even Members of Congress, seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQI+ youth and our community at large."

“This is a museum, much like we’ve done to recognize African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and most recently, Asian-Americans,” Pocan explained further in a video announcing the bill. “It’s a way to really recognize our community and to be able to recognize it and look at its history and look at all aspects of [the] treatment of this country, both good and bad. And this legislation would start the process so that we could also have a museum dedicated to the LGBTQI+ community.”

The initiative has garnered support from all eight LGBTQ+ co-chairs of the Equality Caucus, including 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, who joined Pocan in introducing the legislation.

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