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Domestic Partnership VS. Marriage

Posted by amy On January - 29 - 2009

In my current home state (current because Ohio will always be my real home state) of Washington, our state-wide LGBTQ organization, Equal Rights Washington, just introduced a state-wide Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill*.  Currently, our state provides partial rights under our Domestic Partnership laws including property rights, real-estate related taxes, powers of attorney, and a few more.  The DP expansion bill would provide WA-state LGBTQ families with even more rights, making our relationships almost equivalent (at least at the state-level) to heterosexual married couples.  Since yesterday’s announcement of this bill, there has been some heated debate about weather it is “too little vs. too much” and of course, the consistent debate amongst our own community of “Domestic Partnership” vs. “Marriage.”

As the debate rages, I feel the need to bring attention to a very specific quote from ERW: They say that this DP bill is “part of a broader effort to secure full marriage equality in Washington.”  While we all work together to achieve full marriage equality, we need to understand that there are steps to be taken in this process.  Some of these steps include starting off with a word that many of us are not comfortable with: Domestic Partnership.  This word, from what I gather, is meant to be a “start,” but definitely not an end in our evolution toward full equality.

So now I want to bring this question to YOU on a national level.  If you were given the option to fully protect your family RIGHT NOW, but have those protections categorized under the term “Domestic Partner” or to wait an uncertain amount of time (months, years, possibly more) so that you can have the entire package – the word and the rights… which would you choose?  Now, I am in no way trying to under play the word “marriage.”  Beyond the 1100 PLUS Federal rights that come with the word “marriage,” there are also numerous unspoken social rights that come with the word.

As this debate rages in our community, there are LGBTQ families in need of equal protections NOW.  With our current economic state, we need to ensure that families can share pensions, health insurance, life insurance, and more.  In some states, these protections can come immediately, but only if the semantics come with it.  Many are angry about this.  Many feel that this is an all or nothing situation and they will not support a Domestic Partnership because it does not come with all of the federal and social rights of Civil Marriage.  I say, that we must come together as a community, which was the call to action that began Join the Impact.  We cannot let our community continue to be divided in this debate, while elderly members of our community loose out (as many DP rights are set to protect these people the most).  A DP is NOT FULL EQUALITY, but it IS a step in the right direction, and I think we need that step to be taken in states that require it.  Not all states can skip the step of DP, but we are lucky to have those that can.

While we continue this discussion, we each must realize that there is an internal struggle we must deal with as well.  We are raised to believe that the highest form of commitment only comes with the word “marriage.”  This is why I call my wife, “my wife.”  This is why I call my relationship a “marriage.”  And this is why I spent a whole lot of money on a full-blown “traditional” ceremony with family and friends to celebrate my love.  I did this because the word is extremely important to me.  I did this because I have a deep rooted pride and respect in the word marriage.  And the internal struggle exists when those outside my family do not understand my relationship or revere it the way I do, or the way they would a heterosexual marriage of two perfect strangers.  The majority of these people do not “hate” me or my relationship.  Instead, they believe that they are protecting their families when fighting to keep this word theirs.  We, on the other hand, are protecting our families when fighting for this word as well.  Herein lies the divide, which is rooted in an equal end goal: protection of one’s family.  Well, I’m going to protect my family in any and every way that I can.  I will do this by upholding my definition of marriage:  A monogamous, consensual, life-long commitment rooted in love, honor, respect, and responsibility.  I will do this by fighting for equal protections under the law.  I will do this because I know that one day, the ENTIRE package of equality will be sitting at my doorstep.

This is a chicken vs. the egg scenario.  What will come first, the legal rights, or the social rights?  That is up to you.  If the legal rights come to me here in Washington before the social rights do, I won’t complain.  I won’t because I demand those social rights everyday in everything that I do.  I know what my relationship is, and I am confident enough in it that nobody’s beliefs can change it.  No law will tell me what I can and cannot call my family.  No law will tell me how to regard my wife.  I AM MARRIED, and the LAW and the SEMANTICS will just have to catch up to my PRIDE!

*If you are in WA and would like to support this next step toward civil-marriage, please email your legislature today!

*If you are in a state where similar initiatives are taking place, PLEASE post them on this blog, The Impact, and email JTI with them as well… JTI will do whatever we can to help get the word out and help!

A Long Awaited Update: Open Letter Signatures

Posted by amy On January - 25 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I can’t even beging to tell you how many emails I have received this week regarding the Open Letter Signature Drive.  I apologize to everyone for not updating you in a timely manner, but the truth is, we are STILL counting signatures.  This is a GREAT problem to have!  It means that we had so many people participating, that the core group we put together to handle 1 million signatures, are overwhelmed!  One of our board members got a call on the 16th of the month from the post office.  They asked him to come over there immediately because they couldn’t handle the amount of mail we were receiving!  His apartment is covered with signature sheets!!

We did the math.  Each signature sheet has the ability to contain 20 signatures.  To get 1 million signatures, that means a MINIMUM of 50,000 sheets of paper!  Stacked on top of each other, 50,000 sheets of paper would be a little over 4feet tall!  Talk about an amazing visual impact!  Well, we have around 4-5ft of paper right now, and have decided to EXTEND the signature drive to DOUBLE our impact!  We are doing this because weather and college break got in the way of about 7 states participating.  Ohio had to cancel their event because of a huge snow storm.  Manhattan’s turn out was affected by weather.  Small college towns were just returning from break.  The list goes on.  We want to ensure that EVERYONE has a voice in this and EVERYONE’S SIGNATURE COUNTS! Because of this, we pushed our deadline to hand the signatures to Obama to the end of February.  We will need all signature sheets mid-Feb to ensure that they all get counted.  This ensures that the letter gets to Obama while Congress begins their session and that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate.

So here’s what we are going to do:

  1. We hope that you’ll join us and print out the Open Letter and Signature Sheets and start collecting more signatures.
  2. Send signatures to our Ohio office BY MONDAY FEB 16TH to ensure all are counted
  3. Here’s a new twist based on feedback from our members: Write your own letter, sign it, and send it our way, we’ll ensure it gets to him.
  4. If you can’t get to a printer, then let me send you a letter and some signature sheets, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to mail the signatures back.  Use the contact us form to request the forms.

Many people want us to turn this into an online signature drive, but we feel that this will negate the purpose.  Many online petitions are taken less seriously and considered much less valid.  We have a 4.5foot stack of signatures to bring to Obama!  We want to make that 10 feet tall!  Handing over a DVD with all the signatures just doesn’t make the same visual impact.  We want the world to see just how many of us there are that support full equality for LGBTQI citizens!  Let’s do this in the most organic way possible.

Further, we want everyone to continue the conversation of equality.  This signature drive provides each and every one of you with the opportunity to do this.  So who’s with us?  Ready to kick it up a notch?

IN the parade

Posted by amy On January - 20 - 2009

Many are aware of INtheparade.com, but for those who aren’t, IN worked hard to ensure that LGBTQI visibility shined bright during the inaugural parade today. In the words of IN the Parade:

For the first time in America’s history, an openly-LGBT contingent is marching in a Presidential Inaugural Parade. The Lesbian/Gay Band Association (LGBA) has been invited to MARCH on January 20, 2009. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. And there is still more you can do!

Though I did not attend the parade, many members of Join the Impact (including co-founder, Willow Witte) made their way to Washington D.C. for this amazing event!  I want to share you you some pictures taken during the parade as we, the LGBTQI community, join in making history!

Hours Away: America’s New President

Posted by amy On January - 19 - 2009

Tomorrow marks an amazing moment in the history of America that I am honored to witness. I still remember what everyone, including myself, was saying a year ago: America is not ready for an African American president. Now look where America is only one year later. In less than a year, we emerged from the overwhelming idea that America was not ready and took to the polls to prove that we were and we are!

I spent my evening talking with someone about laws governed by society. This conversation was about Same-Sex Civil Marriage. The person I was speaking with stated that Civil Marriage for same-sex couples will not happen because society is not ready. So where do you want us to be in a year? Will society be ready for Same-Sex Civil Marriage? What about a gender-identity inclusive Federal ENDA law? The passage of the Matthew Shepard Act? National adoption rights for LGBTQI couples? These are just a few opportunities in front of us. Help us decide, and then help us make it a reality. Share your ideas to make an IMPACT here.

Look how far our country has come in one year!  What will your IMPACT be to get us to the next level?  I can’t wait to see where we are next year, with the help of amazing people like you!

Equality on Campus Day

Posted by amy On January - 18 - 2009

We Need Your Voice

Posted by amy On January - 14 - 2009

We need your help! When Join the Impact began, it was simply a blog post asking people to come together on a national level to join in one united voice against Proposition 8. In that first week, a great deal of things were asked of Join the Impact, one of which was a 3 month calendar. We put together the calendar as fast as we could and were not aware of the months of learning that laid before us. Now, Join the Impact is a little over 2 months old and we want to make the most out of it. From now on, we need YOU to help us plan what to do next. Light Up the Night was a success because one of our members suggested the idea. Since then, we have had many suggestions come our way and we want our community to have a say in what happens next, what our goals should be, and how we want to accomplish these goals.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Offer up an idea by creating a thread on our event ideas page
  2. People will reply to that specific idea thread to help lend their support and constructive criticism.
  3. Every idea that reaches 100 votes (in the “was this comment valuable to you” tool of the thread), will get it’s own page and members will be asked to create a task force to help make that idea a reality.
  4. We will work with you to help your idea take flight and truly ensure that Join the Impact is your platform for YOUR voice!

DOMA Protest & Signature Drive 411

Posted by amy On January - 8 - 2009

We are just 2 days away from another NATIONAL event that will take us one step closer toward achieving full equality!  On January 10th, our voices will be heard around the nation as we shed light on DOMA and get 1 Million Signatures on our Open Letter to Barack Obama, reminding him of his promise to REPEAL DOMA!  This event is one that comes in many forms with rallies in almost every major city mixed with signature drives throughout the nation.  This Saturday, hundreds of cities around the nation will participate in one of our 4 fantastic options to get involved that include outreach, canvasing, and protests!  This will be a National Day of Impact!

It’s not too late to get involved.  Find an event near you today! If there is not an event in your area, it is not too late to put something together.  Take a que from Julie Phineas of LezGetReal.com – She has planned an entire day of signature gathering!

Check out her video encouraging people to attend her event!

There are 10 Ways to Help us reach 1 Million Signatures – Real People, Real Signatures, Real Change*:

  1. Gather signatures at your place of work (make sure it doesn’t hinder your HR policy)
  2. Go out to the bars on Friday and Saturday nights and get signatures
  3. Go to your local screening of MILK and get signatures from individuals in line or as they are leaving
  4. Go to local stores and ask that they put the signature pages at the counter
  5. Grab a friend and canvas your neighborhood asking for signatures
  6. Go to a local event to gain signatures (Art Walks, Concerts, etc)
  7. Email this blog post to friends and family, ask them to print out the signature page and mail it to Join the Impact
  8. Attend one of the 100 National Rallies on January 10th to gain signatures
  9. Go to church on Sunday and ask for signatures
  10. Use the power of the internet: Blog about it, ping all your friends on Facebook/MySpace, send this message to EVERYONE

*Many have asked why this is not an online petition.  Simply put, we want this to be as real as possible.  Online petitions have less validity and less impact.  We want to show Obama that we can mobilize 1 million people and we need to do this in the most organic way possible.  It’s easy to get 1 million signatures in an online petition.  It takes time, commitment, and energy to get 1 million physical signatures though.  Let’s show Obama just how committed we are to this cause!

Jan 10th DOMA Protest – Tools for Success

Posted by amy On January - 6 - 2009

Breaking News – Author of DOMA Asks for Repeal

Posted by amy On January - 5 - 2009

One week before our National DOMA protest, the waves of change are already starting to form! Bob Barr, the infamous author of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), wrote an op-ed in the LA Times stating that DOMA should be repealed!  This is something worth celebrating, and something we should take to the next level.

Ever since we announced January 10th’s National DOMA Protest, we learned that many members of the LGBTQ community do not even know what DOMA is.  DOMA, put simply, is one current reason LGBTQ rights are so hard to come by.  When you drill down to the heart of DOMA, it was launched as an effort to keep same-sex couples from gaining the same rights as heterosexual married couples… in other words, it was born out of a need to restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community.  DOMA has been used time and time again to continually restrict the rights of the LGBTQ community in employment, spousal benefits, property ownership, insurance, etc.  Many view it as discrimination written into the constitution (I am one of those many).

On January 10th, we are protesting to repeal DOMA and to gain 1 Million Signatures on our Open Letter to Barack Obama.  This letter is meant to serve as a reminder to Obama of the promises that he made to our community, which he wrote in an Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community in early 2008.  In that letter, he promised to repeal DOMA.  We drafted a letter that uses his exact words in an effort to remind him just how accountable we expect him to be for his promises.  Many requests have been made to broaden this letter and add a request for full gay marriage, or other initiatives to the list.  We do not want to deter from the point of the letter though: Repeal DOMA.  Hold True to Your Promises.  Your Words DO Have Meaning.

DOMA Defined:

On September 21st, 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into federal law. DOMA, wrote discrimination into the Constitution with two strict regulations:

  1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
  2. The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

To drive the point even further, 37 states slowly but surely adopted DOMA as a state-wide regulation further amending state Constitutions. This appalling law tells the American people that it is OK to discriminate. That it is OK to recognize the LGBTQ community as less than equal. This same law, that the California Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional set the precedence for Proposition 8. This same law has nullified many rights that come with Domestic Partnerships. This law does not just affect members of the LGBTQ community – it also repeals rights from heterosexual non-married couples.  This law has nullified the heterosexual rights that come with Common Law Marriage. This law blurred the lines of separation of church and state even further. And this law, is one of many that President Elect Barack Obama has PROMISED to repeal in his “Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community.

DOMA is not a speed bump on the road to full equality.  It is not even a road block.  DOMA is a gigantic brick wall that is crumbling!  On January 10th, we encourage you to find a protest in or near your city.  Join in this important national moment, where we will work together to shed light on the negative effects of DOMA.  Help us get signatures between now and Jan 10th on the Open Letter to Barack Obama.  Bob Barr, who created the beast, is now in our corner to help us defeat it!  He started the wall crumbling, now it’s time we come together this Saturday with our own “demo team” to help tear it down!

Richmond’s Jane Doe – Update

Posted by amy On January - 2 - 2009

4 people were taken in as the alleged rapists of December 13th’s brutal gang rape and attack on a Richmond, CA woman.

This is the beginning of a new year. Over the next 12 months, we will continue to win in the face of ignorance. We WILL continue to remain visible and strong. We WILL continue to unite for full equality. We WILL take leaps forward in our struggle in ways that this country has not yet seen! And during all this, we must remember what has happened to those who are fighting with us. We must remember that not everyone we deal with will change. We must remember that there is a loud minority who wants to make us victims, and a quiet majority that wants us to be victors. We need to give that quiet majority a voice. We need to drown out the hatred of those who want to hurt us. We MUST remember what has occurred since the beginning of this movement and realize that we have many mountains to climb, but our goal IS reachable and WILL be won!

We must remember what happened in Richmond, CA on December 13th, 2008.

They attacked her because she was gay. Our government provides our community and our love with less rights than our heterosexual allies. This causes a sense of entitlement for those who are ignorant and violent.

They raped her because she was gay. Proposition 8 passed in California stating that same-sex couples do not deserve the same recognition as heterosexual couples. Her partner, in the eyes of the law, does not deserve the same recognition.

They beat her because she was gay. We just spent the past 8 years under a president of who openly stated numerous times that it is a sin to be LGBTQ. When the leader of the free world openly discriminates, what is to stop anyone else?

They left her helpless because she was gay. In 30 states it is still legal to fire someone because they are a member of the LGBTQ community. If your employer can discriminate against you, your government can, and your state voters can, then what is to stop someone from feeling justified by violence?

We are ALL connected. What we say, what we do, and what we vote on DOES affect everyone. When we turn our eyes away from hatred, we allow it to occur. When we remain silent while somebody calls us Faggot, we allow the stereotypes to continue. When we hear a teen year old say “That’s so gay” and don’t speak up, we allow him or her to grow up thinking that it is OK to speak like that about a minority.

Of those arrested, two were teenagers: 15 and 16.

I look forward to a world when I don’t have to say that anyone, did anything, because someone is gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered, or queer.

Please DONATE to Richmond’s Jane Doe and help her and her partner get back on their feet. Her partner needs time off to care for her. We can help. Please learn how you can donate here:http://www.facebook.com/n/?event.php&eid=40712604850