Archive for February, 2009
OK it’s official: my Flu is gone. This means that it’s about time I catch everyone up on some amazing things happening all over the nation as we continue moving toward equality. To begin, the conversation of equality has been going on for many many years, but the passage of Proposition 8 has made this conversation surge in ways never seen before. EVERYONE is talking about equal rights these days… and it’s making our opposition louder as well. We need to stay strong, stay loud, and STAY PROUD!
Here are some amazing ways that you can get out there and keep this conversation going, make some changes, and push us another step (or leap) forward on the path to full equal rights:
- “PROcott” Pepsi – so there is no official antonym for “boycott” as such, I give you “procott.” The American Family Association (the group that brings the nation anti-gay propaganda videos making members of the LGBTQ community out to be in-human), is now calling for a national boycott of Pepsi. They are angered by Pepsi’s pro-LGBTQ stance and outraged by the latest Pepsi Ads. They have almost 200K people signed up to boycott Pepsi. So, let’s show Pepsi how much we support them. Check out this great Facebook Group asking you to BUY PEPSI. We have millions of people involved with JTI… let’s show the AFA just how easy it is for us to cancel out their numbers! Once you’ve agreed to Buy Pepsi, call them and thank them for their support (especially since they are getting calls from those against the LGBTQ community right now: 914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652).
- March Forth on March 4th: March 4th is the “Eve of Justice” and MEUSA is putting together an amazing candlelight vigil across California. Join in from your home, your city center, or use The Impact to setup an event in your city.
- March 5th Wear White: Willow did a great post on this yesterday. On March 5th, the CA Supreme Court will be hearing the opening arguments for and against Prop 8. Please wear white (or a white knot) that day to support those fighting for all of us.
- March 5th – COME TO SF: That’s right… I know that the economy is in a downward spiral right now, but that also means that plane tickets are SUPER CHEAP. Join myself, Willow, and thousands of JTI members from around the country outside of the SF Supreme Court to witness this amazing historical event! Virgin Airlines and Travelocity are selling super cheap tickets to SF right now! Let’s join the goal of getting 100K people outside of the courthouse on the 5th!
- Even if you can’t come to SF, help us share this with EVERYONE! MEUSA is raising money to get a Jumbotron in front of the SF courthouse so that everyone in attendance can hear the opening arguments. ANY DONATION HELPS!!! Please DONATE TODAY!
- Ask Your State Rep to Support UAFA: The Uniting American Families Act was reintroduced on February 12th. Call your state rep and ask that they support the UAFA.
- Stay tuned to this site for updates on future events. If you have an idea for an event and would like the help of JTI, please submit your event here.
As you may have heard, March 5 is the date the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on the validity of Proposition 8. This is a day that begins an historic process which directly affects the rights not just of those who seek a same-sex marriage, but all minority rights. Proposition 8 sets a precedent that allows the majority to vote on the rights of a minority any time there is a court decision. It can affect the rights of any minority that faces discrimination because it TAKES AWAY an existing right from a targeted minority. Prop 8 clearly affects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it’s implications are far more reaching. Additionally, Prop 8 does not just affect the rights of Californians. All Americans are affected. The conservative right is bringing this fight to us in states throughout the Union. Yesterday in Hawaii 2,000 people stood AGAINST Civil Unions. Florida, Arkansas and Arizona also all lost ballot measures in their states on Nov. 4 to limit the rights of our families. We are under attack, and we MUST fight back.
We can all show our solidarity on March 5 by wearing white. This can be a wedding dress, sailor uniform, feather boa, all white leather, white tee, white knot, whatever you please.
We are calling for a loud voice to show up in San Francisco and be part of hearing the oral arguments. I’ve extended my trip in California. Amy’s flying down from Seattle. People have already purchased tickets from the east coast. Students from campuses all over have been granted funding for transport to be witness to this important piece of the political process. People will be calling off work to be there. Oh yeah, and did I mention there’ll be a JUMBOTRON? (Please help fund the jumbotron! No contribution too small!)
We know this economy is tough, but if you have the means- you should get there. Many airlines have announced drastically reduced rates recently, and this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of them.
A college run website has emerged with a goal of driving ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND people to San Francisco for March 5. Some people say that number is crazy, I say that number is NECESSARY. There should absolutely be a larger turn-out than we’ve ever seen for this. We know our opposition will be there.
Let’s show them numbers they’ve never dreamed of!
March 5 Wear White at the San Francisco Supreme Court!!
I just wanted to take a moment to apologize for not posting anything for awhile. I have had a horrible flu for the past 2 weeks and am just now getting to the point where I can get back to business. Soon you will see more posts, updates, and the like.
Here’s some quick updates:
- Freedom to Marry Day was a HUGE success thanks to the amazing efforts of MEUSA!
- We gathered another few feet (stacked) of signature pages on the Open Letter to Obama!
- Willow Witte (the co-founder of JTI) is on a month-long visit to California. She’s meeting with leaders in the movement, attending some amazing events, and finding great partners for future JTI events!
- We are still working on what we want to lend our support to in March, which is a key month for the Prop 8 battle (We’ll keep you posted)
- Finally, there are a few great winners for our “Share Your Ideas” contest in which we asked our members to share their ideas for future events. We will be contacting the owners of those ideas soon and working with them to make each event a reality!
Thanks so much for your patience and your amazing emails wishing me a quick recovery!! You guys are amazing!!!!
Share Valentine’s Day Love
with Champions of Marriage Equality
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s ‘Heroes of Love’ Campaign
Thanks Courageous Straight Allies
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2, 2009— As a kid, Valentine’s Day often meant slipping cheesy heart-shaped cards into the construction paper-decorated shoeboxes of classmates (though not necessarily the classmates you really liked). For adults, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating relationships—and the Heroes of Love campaign is about showing love for those who have supported the relationships of same-sex couples by being fierce advocates for marriage equality.
Visitors to www.LoveHeroes.com can sign oversized valentine cards that the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will deliver to 15 courageous straight allies, Heroes of Love, who have stood with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in our fight for marriage equality. The goal is to show them how many thousands of people appreciate their support.
Because there are many more than 15 heroic supporters of marriage equality, visitors to the site can also personalize and send e-valentines, designed by celebrity supporters of the Center, to any hero of love they choose.
Straight Ally Heroes
“Our movement has made enormous progress regarding the freedom to marry, thanks not only to courageous LGBT people but to the dedication of many straight allies,” says Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “We could not have come as far as we have without them, and they deserve our kudos and respect. With continued support from Heroes of Love like those we honor this Valentine’s Day, we will forge ahead, confident that Proposition 8 was only a temporary setback in our quest for justice and that full and complete equality will one day be ours.”
The 15 straight allies being honored are:
· Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP
· Jerry Brown, California Attorney General
· Judy Chu, chair of the California Board of Equalization
· Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor
· Diane Feinstein, U.S. Senator
· Hon. Ron George, Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court
· Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America
· Alice Huffman, President of the California NAACP
· Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher
· Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco
· Jack O’Connell, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction
· Brad Pitt, A-list actor
· Jerry Sanders, mayor of San Diego
· Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles
· Karin Wang, Vice President of Programs for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
Your Personal Hero
Use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to thank a boss who let you volunteer on Election Day, a parent who donated to the No on 8 campaign or friends who joined you for phone banking—recognize them all with free Valentine’s Day e-cards, including cards designed by Queer As Folk stars Michelle Clunie and Peter Paige and Girls Will Be Girls star and executive producer Jack Plotnick.
The Center’s Vote for Equality Project, which has been educating voters about marriage equality for more than 4 years, is organizing a Valentine’s Day canvass to help change the minds and hearts of voters in parts of Los Angeles where Prop. 8 passed by a narrow margin. The canvass will begin with a full training, and lunch will be provided.
To volunteer or to learn about future canvassing opportunities, visit www.lagaycenter.org/voteforequality.
About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Since 1971 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the Web at: www.lagaycenter.org.
While hundreds of thousands of JTI members have joined with MEUSA today to take the message of marriage equality to marriage counters across the country, I unfortunately am stuck in bed with a fever of 103 . You see, over the past week, I have been incredibly sick, and therefor unable to get online and put up any blog posts or join in any of the fun planning for today’s events. Let this be a lesson to each and everyone of you to get a flu shot when the opportunity presents itself.
Lucky for me, on today’s 12th annual Freedom to Marry Day, Evan Wolfson of FreedomToMarry.org wrote an amazing piece and has given me permission to re-post it on JTI… giving all of our readers a great update, and me another few hours to rest my eyes and fill up on emergen-c.
Executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry
Posted February 11, 2009 | 11:22 AM (EST)
Abraham Lincoln may have been the first American to write about a same-sex couple getting married. His 1829 poem recounting the marriage of Nate and Billy was “perhaps the most explicit literary reference to actual homosexual relations in 19th century America.” Lincoln’s most important early biographer, William Herndon, initially included the poem in his Life of Lincoln, but as so often with gay subjects, it was subsequently omitted and largely ignored by later scholars.
Recently there has been greater willingness to debate evidence that our greatest president may himself have had same-sex attraction and even acted on it, as the iconic Lincoln biographer, Carl Sandburg, intimated in 1924 when he wrote of Lincoln’s “streaks of lavender.” In 2005, C.A. Tripp’s Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln marshaled accounts of Lincoln’s relations with men such as Captain David Derickson, including a November 1862 diary entry by the wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy that reads, “There is a Bucktail soldier here, devoted to the President, drives with him, and when Mrs. L is not home, sleeps with him. What stuff!” Like other scholars, Tripp explored Lincoln’s singularly intimate relationship with Joshua Speed, who told Herndon, “If I had not been married & happy — far more happy than I ever expected to be — [Lincoln] would not have married.”
But it’s not because of Lincoln’s sexual orientation or other “stuff” that February 12, Lincoln’s birthday, has for 12 years now been the centerpiece of National Freedom to Marry Week. Lincoln’s strongest connection to the freedom to marry cause lies in the values he embodied in his life, and embodies in ours. He was committed to equality, freedom, and lifting people up. He called Americans to the “better angels of our nature,” and he combined a deep moral integrity with a determined and strategic focus on achieving what is most important and right.
In the wake of last November’s Proposition 8 temporarily halting marriages in California, and with marriage equality shimmering within reach in other states such as New York and New Jersey, gay and non-gay people and organizations across the country will spend Freedom to Marry Week asking our fellow citizens to, in Lincoln’s words, “think anew” about how exclusion from marriage harms gay families while helping no one. Freedom to Marry Week in this Lincoln bicentennial year recalls his admonition, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
In Lincoln’s Virtues, William Lee Miller described Lincoln’s distinctly independent mind and great empathy (both as a child and adult). Young Lincoln rejected much of his world (hunting, fighting, chasing girls, slavery, churchgoing, cruelty to Indians, etc.) and yet remained engaged in the world, embracing and non-dismissive of others. Lincoln’s ability and determination to put himself in the other’s shoes — to say of Southerners, as he did in numerous speeches as a candidate and as president, “they are just as we would be in their situation” — while holding steadfastly to his lifelong belief that slavery is wrong, offers a lesson to those of us seeking to further move the public toward marriage equality.
Lincoln‘s combination of tactical maneuvering and incremental action with consistent articulation of a clear moral standard over time helped elevate public understanding and commitment to what is right. Even while biding his time or falling short of “purist” demands for immediate and extreme steps — he was a politician, not philosopher — Lincoln understood that “explicit public clarity…that slavery is a great moral evil was essential to the permanent solution to the problem of slavery.”
Now slavery was an exceptional injustice, and I don’t equate the wrong of marriage discrimination to it. Likewise, the challenges confronting President Obama and our country today are many and serious, though not of the existential scope as those confronting Lincoln. Still, Obama, like me a fervent admirer of Lincoln, would do well to ask himself what Lincoln would do faced with the question of whether to continue the denial of the freedom to marry to these committed couples.
As a candidate for the Illinois Senate in 1996, a body in which Lincoln also served, Obama in his own hand supported the Marriage Resolution now on Freedom to Marry’s website. He said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” I believe Lincoln, with today’s understanding of who gay people are, would, too. And once Lincoln had taken such a step, he would have stuck with it, as when he courageously refused to retreat from the Emancipation Proclamation even when facing a difficult reelection battle in 1864. As Lincoln said, “The promise, being made, must be kept.”
In recent years, Obama has wavered on marriage equality, while expressing commendable support for gay families and substitute legal status such as civil union — getting the what (equality) right, but not the how (marriage). Lincoln, however, would not have abandoned a clear commitment to the right result even when, where necessary, moving by intermediate steps.
President Obama seems determined to embrace Lincoln’s empathy model — “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America…. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.” I hope he and other politicians also embrace Lincoln’s courage and lessons on how to combine strategy with moral education, moral leadership, that prepares and moves Americans in fulfillment of our deepest values. After all, as a recent Freedom to Marry study reported, no legislators who voted for marriage equality or against anti-gay measures lost their seat in the last several election cycles.
As Lincoln’s words and actions skillfully paved the way for America’s “new birth of freedom,” he returned again and again to the Declaration of Independence’s promise that “all should have an equal chance.” Lincoln didn’t expect that promise to waft in by itself, or solely on the work of others. He led.
National Freedom to Marry Week is around the corner, and orgs all over the country have some amazing events planned! Check out our Other Events page to see what’s going on.
Join the Impact and Marriage Equality USA have teamed up to make February 12th a huge day! Every year, MEUSA has marriage counter actions on National Freedom to Marry Day. This year, they asked JTI if we could join to cover more ground and send the message of LGBTQ Equality to our local community and representatives. JTI and MEUSA organizers have teamed up around the country and have spent the past few weeks working extremely hard on their Feb 12 IMPACT!
Here’s the official rundown:
On National Freedom to Marry Day, Thursday, February 12, 2009, at local marriage counters in cities all over the country, same-sex couples will request marriage licenses at their local County Clerk’s Offices to raise awareness of the harms and impact that the inability to marry causes on their families. This national event is hosted yearly by Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and this year they have asked Join the Impact for our help to make this their largest Marriage Counter Action yet! .:more:.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Please help us lend support to Marriage Equality USA as we draw national attention to the many committed couples who are not afforded the right to marry. We ask that JTI organizers reach out to their local chapters and member organizations and offer support in making this event a success!
If You Want to Get Involved, Please Find a Marriage Counter Action in YOUR CITY
Marriage Equality USA chapters and member organizations are eager to hear from you and get your help. In those cities where an MEUSA does not exist, we ask that JTI organizers step up (once again) and help us bring this event to their city for the first time. MEUSA has provided us with a national toolkit which will help us ensure that this event gets the attention it deserves as we join forces for one large impact!
The Courage Campaign never ceases to amaze me! California is filled with some amazing orgs, but when it comes to Prop 8, the Courage Campaign always knows how to take the message of the damage Prop 8 has caused, and deliver it in a way that really hits home for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. So here is a BIG THANK YOU to the Courage Campaign for putting together this inspirational campaign and taking our movement another step in the right direction!
Some of you may have heard rumblings about JTI partnering with some AMAZING orgs like the ACLU to roll out a new initiative… well, here’s confirmation in Press Release form:
Join the Impact has partnered with other national LGBT groups to develop a web based public education campaign, www.tell-three.org, to encourage LGBT people and their supporters to have three conversations with friends and family to help build support for LGBT equality.
“The passage of Prop 8 in California has motivated LGBT people and their supporters like never before,” said Amy Balliett of Join the Impact, a grass roots organization with more than 15,000 regular members and millions of world-wide participants, that has helped to organize massive demonstrations throughout the U.S. since the November elections. “Now that we’ve had some time to get over our anger and sadness, we’re ready to act. And the single most important thing we can do to guarantee we don’t find ourselves on the losing side of another political campaign is to have conversations with our friends and family about what it means to be LGBT.”
Other organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union; Equality California; the Equality Federation; Freedom to Marry; The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, will be rolling out their own versions of the campaign on their websites. The goal of the campaign is for all LGBT groups and individuals to seize upon the momentum that has been generated since the passage of Proposition 8 in November and work together to tell their stories to build support for all of the issues affecting LGBT people.
“Harvey Milk was right on the money to encourage everyone to come out to their friends and family, but we know now that coming out alone isn’t enough,” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU LGBT Project. “To persuade others to support LGBT equality we need to have personal conversations with people that explain what its like to be LGBT. We need to talk about our relationships, the struggles we face as LGBT people, the ways our lives are the same and the ways they are different.”
Visitors to www.tell-three.org can find additional information on who to talk with and how to start these important conversations. There are also resources for those who want to learn more about the issues affecting LGBT people. But, as the website notes, the most important thing is for people to have personal conversations. The website encourages LGBT people to talk about their relationships, about growing up, and about how being LGBT has made them feel different from others in some respects and the same in others. Straight allies are encouraged to talk about their relationships with LGBT people and to speak up when they hear others make homophobic or transphobic comments.
The groups are encouraging everyone – members of national and local LGBT groups, individuals and couples supportive moms and dads, and allied friends and colleagues – to join the campaign and get people talking. The site makes it easy to spread the word to others to send an e-mail to their friends. Eventually there will also be opportunities for people to share their experiences on the site.
The campaign is also calling on bloggers and videographers to help spread the word by sharing their experiences of having these important conversations. “After Prop 8 passed, we spoke through demonstrations and we made ourselves heard. We need to take our voices beyond the streets into every home in America, and to do that we need to use every avenue available to sparking conversations,” added Balliett.