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Making an Impact in the State of Washington

Posted by willow On May - 21 - 2009

Referendum 71 and Washington’s Domestic Partnership Rights

The Washington State Legislature passed the Domestic Partnership expansion bill of 2009 and Governor Gregoire signed it into law.  This is the third element in a three year plan to deliver all the same state rights and obligations of marriage to same sex couples. The Domestic Partnership registry also provides a legal framework for heterosexual senior citizens 62 and older.  Domestic Partnership registries are popular among senior citizens because they protect their relationships at the state level while still permitting them to enjoy the benefits of social security income from a previous spouse.

I attended the signing ceremony on Monday, May 18 in Seattle, Washington along with hundreds of gays, lesbians, and allies.  About 30 or 40 children were present.  I overheard an 11 year old boy interviewed by a KOMO radio news reporter.  He said, “Now the state knows what I have know for a long time.  My family is legitimate.” It was a moment I will never forget.

The Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill was step three in a three year process to bring over 450 rights to LGBT families. While the strategy was criticized by some in the community who wanted instant gratification, it was a strategy that proved to be a winner.  According to Senator Ed Murray and Representative Jamie Peterson who have sponsored the bills, we are now poised to press for full marriage equality in name and law in Washington.

Before we can go for full marriage equality though, Washington residents must protect equality from a Referendum attempt.  A group of fringe right wing extremists are attempting to put Referendum 71 on the ballot.  To do so, they must  120, 577 signatures by July 25, 2009.  If they are successful voters will have to vote to “Affirm” the Domestic Partnership law to protect equality.  It will undoubtedly be very confusing to many voters who want Domestic Partnerships. Check out the Secretary of State’s website to see how Referendum 71 would appear on the ballot. http://blogs.secstate.wa.gov/FromOurCorner/index.php/2009/05/update-gregoire-signs-domestic-partner-law-challenge-afoot/

Our opponents face an enormous challenge.  Immediately following their threat, Join the Impact, Equal Rights Washington, Fuse, the GSBA,the Labor movement, and many others, joined together to ask Washington voters to Decline to Sign 71.  I formed a facebook group and within the first few days nearly 100 people registered per hour.  Now we have approximately 6000 facebook pledges to decline to sign referendum 71 spread over two groups and a fan page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/pages/Decline-to-Sign-71/79860412479.  Equal Rights Washington has tens of thousands more. http://eqfed.org/campaign/DeclineToSignPet_71

We are united in Washington to Decline to Sign 71 while our opponents are fumbling to find their voice. Washington law requires each signature sheet to present the entire bill.  Each sheet can only hold 20 signatures and the bill is 100 pages long.  The cost to produce the petition is astronomical and the physical challenge of carrying it around is laughable.  According to a University of Washington poll, well over 70% of Washington voters support some form of legal recognition for same sex couples.  In short, our opponents will drain their war chests against a battle that seems largely over. By their own admission it will take “a miracle from God” for them to win.  Traditional anti-equality groups have withdrawn support because of the daunting challenge, leaving a splintered fringe group with little to no chance of winning.

However, whenever our community is under attack we need to take it seriously.  So for now please join me and others by asking your friends and neighbors to Decline to Sign 71 so that we can realize equality as quickly as possible. http://eqfed.org/campaign/DeclineToSignPet_71

Together we will make an IMPACT!

Joe Mirabella, who authored this post, is the Washington State Community Organizer for Join the Impact. He and his fiance Joe Brokken are engaged to marry in their home state Iowa this summer. Joe works as a professional writer and content developer for an online retailer.

President Obama: Don’t Flip Flop on DOMA!

Posted by willow On May - 20 - 2009

OPERATION FLIP FLOP:
Asking President Obama to keep his promise on DOMA
MAIL A FLIP FLOP CARD TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Mail Flip Flops to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

The first ever federal lawsuit against Section 3 of DOMA (“Defense Of Marriage Act”) was filed on March 3, 2009 by GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) on behalf of eight same-sex married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal legal protections available to spouses. They served the government with the lawsuit the week of April 27th and now the Department of Justice, under President Obama’s authority, has until the week of June 22nd to respond.

President Obama now has a choice — direct Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department to defend DOMA in court or keep his campaign promise by asking Holder not to defend this unconstitutional law.

Past presidents have ordered the Justice Department not to defend certain federal laws being challenged in court where such laws appeared on its face to be unconstitutional. There is no clearer example of a blatantly unconstitutional law than DOMA which President Obama himself has called an “abhorrent law” and that its repeal is “essential”.

There is also a Washington Post editorial urging President Obama to take the very same action, “President Obama is on record opposing DOMA. Although the Justice Department typically defends acts of Congress in court, Mr. Obama should ask his legal advisers to determine whether they, like the plaintiffs, believe DOMA as applied in this case is unconstitutional. If so, Mr. Obama should consider whether this is one of those rare instances where the Justice Department declines to defend a law.”

Use this fun and creative way to let Obama know YOU WERE LISTENING to his campaign promises, and expect him to keep them!object>

This is an issue of equal rights for all Americans! Stand up and make your voice heard! Join us in ensuring the federal government and President Obama get rid of DOMA by mailing flip flops to the White House!

SPREAD THE WORD! Please pass this on and alert your friends, classmates, co-workers, family members, progressive groups, etc.

For more info on Operation Flip Flop, visit www.domaflipflop.com or the facebook page .

Operation Flip Flop!

Posted by willow On May - 20 - 2009

Taking the battle where it’s hardest

Posted by willow On May - 9 - 2009

The battle for equality has to be fought in small town America, such as Fresno, CA and not just gay-friendly cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York .

The population of California ‘s Central Valley is far more reflective of national attitudes toward LGBT rights nationwide, such as Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas and South Carolina. Until we roll up our sleeves and directly engage the communities of “middle-America”, we will not have the full equality we deserve.

Meet in the Middle 4 Equality is a major step in that direction.

On the 1st Saturday AFTER the California Supreme Court issues its ruling on the Proposition 8 cases — win or lose — we are kicking off a statewide and national effort toward full federal equality and we are kicking it off in Fresno, CA.

Fresno, CA is the heart of Yes on 8 territory. We, the LGBT community and allies, need to show the state, the nation and the world our numbers, strength and unity. We need to show them we will not go away. Everyone, all of us, need to come together for our equal rights.

One amazing ally, Charlize Theron, in recent Courage Campaign release pledged her support: “We know the people whose lives are on the line — those who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender — will be there. But we need everyone there. Especially straight people.”

This IS the civil rights movement of this generation.

Where will YOU stand when the Court rules?

Where will you STAND for equality?

We will stand in Fresno…join us!

Phillip, who authored this post, is from Unite The Fight. Unite the Fight reports on the LGBT and allied communities’ efforts to win full equal rights for all with a focus on marriage equality. Delivering the most recent news and stories, Unite the Fight rallies the grassroots by giving the latest information on actions and events throughout the nation, working hands-on with many groups in the struggle to obtain full equality.

Project Classifieds: Equality Wanted!

Posted by willow On April - 29 - 2009

Want to get the same-sex marriage issue back in the media in a positive way?

Want to make a memorable statement in a way that’s never been done before?
Join us in taking over statewide newspapers on Sunday, May 3rd!
Imagine the look on people’s faces when they open the newspaper and turn to the classifieds section but only see ads like this:

LOST AND FOUND
Lost – my right to marry the person I love. Last seen on November 4th, 2008. If seen, please return to law abiding, taxpaying citizen. It is dearly missed.

LOST AND FOUND
On Nov 4th, 2008 over half the state of California lost their minds! Please return ASAP so that we can start focusing on issues such as the state deficit, ending the war, homelessness, hunger, etc.

WANTED
The right to marry the person I love. If anyone has a right to marry that they are not using, please let me know. This right must be non-revocable and available to all people regardless of their sexual orientation. Please call ASAP if you can help me secure equality for all.

This is a unique and creative way to bring the discussion of marriage equality into people’s homes. Please take part in this historic movement by submitting your own ad to your local newspaper in time for the May, 3rd publishing (most papers have a deadline of SUNDAY 4/30/09 to get your ad in the May 3rd printing). You can create your own unique ad, or use one of the ads found at http://site.equalitywanted.com/Sample_Ads.html.

This idea is the brainchild of some folks in California but it’s already being adapted by people in other states like Illinois, New York, etc. You can bring humor into your state too!
For more information about this great event, visit http://www.EqualityWanted.com.

National Call In Days for Hate Crimes

Posted by willow On April - 28 - 2009

The House is scheduled to vote TOMORROW on a Hate Crimes Bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, which if it passes will be the first ever piece of Federal Legislation to include our community!

It is crucial that you call your Representatives TODAY, whether you think they’ll support us or not, and urge them to vote YES!

If you’ve never called Congress, let me assure you, it’s easy.  And even if you have already sent an e-mail or called, please make another call – this is our LAST CHANCE before the House votes!

  1. Before 5 p.m. ET on April 27-29, call 202-224-3121
  2. Most likely, one of the Members interns will answer and ask where you’re calling from and why.  You’re calling to urge the Representative to vote for the Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1913).  Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:

· Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim’s sexual orientation.

· Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.

· The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts – not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can’t preach.

· Mention that Rep. <lastname>’s vote on this bill will affect your future support.

I’ll be joining real people on the hill today telling our stories about why the Hate Crimes Bill is important to us in the largest ever Transgender Lobby Day in Washington, DC. I’ve never met with anyone in Congress before. Am I intimidated? Yes. However, yesterday I spent the day at a training put on by the National Transgender Center for Equality. I worked on my story and I know the importance that my reps hear from the people that voted for them, and not just lobbyists- there is nothing more powerful than our stories.

You can support from home by calling today!

The next piece of legislation being introduced is a Federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act- which WILL include transgender protections as well as sexual orientation. It will protect our jobs EVERYWHERE in the country. Getting ENDA passed would be an IMMENSE win, but your help is needed. We need local action teams nationwide to get this passed- REAL PEOPLE developing relationships with their Congressional Reps. Trainings, talking points, and other resources ARE available FOR FREE through the United ENDA Coalition. Getting started is easy. All you have to do is call Jaan Williams with NCLR who is working hard to develop teams in your area and waiting for you to contact him. Email Jaan at JWilliams@nclrights.org and tell him you want to help get ENDA passed!

This bill needs PEOPLE POWER to pass. WE are the people. We have the power.

Let’s get counted!

Posted by willow On April - 27 - 2009

Action Alert – 48 hr window to call for LGBT health data collection!

As of Fri, only 1 of 100 Senators signed on to support LGBT health data collection! Do you know the Census only has 14 questions but this federal health survey has hundreds? Wanna know what % of lesbians have breast cancer? What heart disease rates are for gay men? What the smoking rate is for bisexuals? Then we need to get the gov’t to ask about LGBT people on their federal health surveys!

We need people to call their Senators now to say we will not be ignored in federal surveys any longer, they need to sign on to the Sen. Whitehouse letter about LGBT health data collection by Tue! This is the springboard to getting LGBTs on the Census +  it’s the single thing that would completely change LGBT health. So please call your Senators now and insist they sign on to this letter! 202-224-3121

Talking points:

  • “I urge you to signon to support the Sen. Whitehouse letter asking for LGBT data collection in the largest federal health survey, the National Health Interview Survey.”
  • “LGBTs have many acknowledged health disparities, but until the federal health surveys stop ignoring us, our hands will be tied in getting the data that’s needed to eliminate these disparities.”

After you call be sure to spread the word!

Dr. Scout, who authored this post, is the Director of Science Policy at the National Coalition for LGBT Health. He is often the only Trans father at his children’s PTA meetings.

Vermont and DC: Moving Equality Forward

Posted by willow On April - 7 - 2009

Amy and I asked Boston based Lisa Marshall of JTI Massachusetts to contribute today’s post:

“I’m so excited right now I can hardly sit still.  Vermont, in an unprecedented move, has overturned the governor’s veto and voted in favor of marriage equality by one vote.  One vote!  Thank you Vermont, thank you VT Freedom to Marry, thank you everyone who played a part in this victory.  Congratulations to all of us.  I am so optimistic right now about the future of marriage equality.  Vermont, you have fired us up, you have inspired us, and you have shown us that this fight can be won.

I think back to the elections of 2004, when so many states passed laws and amendments banning gay marriage.   Well, 2009 is not 2004.  The tide is turning.  Massachusetts.  Connecticut.  Iowa. and now Vermont.  Plus, as of today, DC will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, just like New York does.   Four down.  Forty Six to go.  Today, this feels possible, even inevitable.

I don’t pretend that marriage alone equals equality, but today I feel hopeful that we will advance equality in its many forms.  This morning, I heard the announcement about Vermont while  standing amongst hundreds of people who came to the Massachusetts’s statehouse to lobby their representatives for trans equality.  Byron Rushing, the very eloquent lead sponsor of the trans rights bill we were lobbying for, said it right when he said that it is time for our great nation to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for all people.  So, I say hurray for Vermont for bringing us one step closer to this goal!”

JTI MA has been hard at work since they came together to plan JTI’s initial Nov. 15 protest. They’ve since  continually coming up with fabulous ideas working for all aspects of full equality for LGBT people, and recently created an amazing resource that will be used nationally for Tax Day 2009 www.taxday2009.com

Thanks so much to all the folks at JTI MA and every other city’s groups who have continued the grassroots fight!

The voice of this movement

Posted by willow On March - 3 - 2009

Over the last week I’ve been continually inspired by the work of some college students in California who dream big. I can’t wait to meet them all in San Francisco on Thursday because it is EXACTLY this kind of energy that the movement for equality needs to support if we’re going to win. One of them, Urvi Nagrani, posted this on her facebook page and gave me permission to share it with you.

When the verdict is announced for the case to overturn prop 8, I do not want to feel the way I felt on November 5th. This is why I have been motivated to act.


I worked on the case against prop 8 in as intense a way as I felt I could – but looking at it now, I didn’t do enough. I made some calls, talked to friends, phone banked a few times, wore a button, posted a yard sign, put a bumper sticker on my backpack, had a few debates, and did all the basics – but I never stood above the crowd. I was just another supporter of a campaign which I hoped would succeed.

But when it failed I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me and I erupted into tears. It might sound melodramatic, but when prop 8 passed I felt like my identity as a Californian shattered as I realized we weren’t as progressive as I’d like to believe. Sitting on the losing side I for the first time saw myself as a minority. I had always considered my identity as Californian first, and to me that included the idea of a progressive, educated, community oriented citizen. But those two identities no longer melded and suddenly I felt the need to define myself with many more words. After being dragged out of an election party where we’d been celebrating Obama’s victory, I found myself crying in disbelief wondering, “Why?” I blamed myself for not doing enough. I got angry at those around me who couldn’t relate. I became too defensive to listen to the mislead moderates who after talking to I found more understanding than I could have believed that night. I became a reactionary protester who’s only means of expression was dismay. And I don’t want to feel that way again.

So now I’m being proactive. On March 5th I’m going to go to San Francisco not to protest injustice, but to support rectifying the problem. I will stand for equality and civil rights rather than allowing myself to play the role of the victim. And I invite you to join me.

This March we Californians have an opportunity to show the judges we value equality and will support them if they restore it to our laws.

A lot of people say we should wait until 2010 and when we’ll vote again and hopefully win and since 8 is going to be overturned eventually we don’t need to be out there. But if we repeal 8 by that method and this case stands, we’ve still failed because we set legal precedent that it’s okay to remove rights through a simple majority. Which means every election cycle we’ll be playing the same game and spending millions of dollars to determine what rights are to be given. At which point rights aren’t assumed, they’re granted. Rights become privileges and not rights. An idea which offends my idea of what it means to live in a constitutional democratic republic. I like the idea of limits to democracy, and representational government over direct majority rule. And if we say the constitution is a flexible guideline that can be destroyed by a simple majority vote – that enables so many dangerous possibilities.

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Those who say they’re defending traditional marriage are clinging to the security of tradition, and sacrificing civil liberties to achieve that. I don’t expect by the end of this week that everyone who voted Yes on 8 will magically agree with me, but I want to get enough of them to see the risk of legally not protecting civil liberties. This isn’t an issue of Republican versus Democrat – this is an issue of what it means to respect civil rights and the equality of citizens under the law. I hope you take the time out of your schedule and pause to think of these issues before deciding you can’t skip a class – because this is bigger than just another day and just another rally. This is our last chance to have a voice before setting or breaking a dangerous legal precedent. Furthermore California has always been a somewhat progressive state, and if we digress, what will the non-progressive states look like?

I made it through my educational career without ever cutting class. (I do not count excused absences or being ill as cutting) But I will be absent on Wednesday and Thursday. I can think of no single day in my educational career that was worth more than this case will mean. If you can’t be there, I hope you will still give your active support and help invite people to the event! We need to do something above and beyond what’s been done before – after all we don’t want to ask ourselves on March 5th, “Why didn’t I do more?”

In cities throughout the country people like Urvi have been looking forward at what they are going to do to stand up for their rights. Every day you are all what inspires me and what motivates me to keep moving and do everything in my power to keep this movement alive beyond Prop 8, beyond equal marriage rights and to never ever give up. For that inspiration, and that continuing support, visible courage, and constant joy that serving you brings me- from the depths of my soul- THANK YOU.

And thanks to Perez Hilton for voicing his admiration too!

JUMBOTRON! JUMBOTRON! JUMBOTRON! 😉

Speaking of students- they’ll be participating all over the country by joining us in wearing white on the 5th

March 5- Wear White!

Posted by willow On February - 24 - 2009

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!!