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Bar in Texas Raided On 40 yr Anniversary of Stonewall

Posted by willow On July - 3 - 2009

This blog was written by Eric Ross, a Join the Impact organizer in the East Bay of California. He is also the founder of Students for Equality, an organization dedicated to getting high school and college students more involved in LGBTQ Activism. He can be found on facebook and twitter as @LGBT_Activist

In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 29, 2009, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) was accompanied by officers from the Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) to conduct what they called a routine check at a gay bar called the Rainbow Lounge. A total of three bars were inspected that night (the other bars were the Rosedale Saloon and the Cowboy Palace); however the “routine inspection” at the Rainbow Lounge resulted in one person (26 year old Chad Gibson) being hospitalized with a head injury, and witnesses at have been claiming that excessive force was used with many customers at the bar.  Witnesses are saying that even though 7 people were arrested, many more were dragged out of the bar. People are actually calling the event a “Police Raid”. What makes the story even more interesting is that the incident just happened to fall on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Is this a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Stories have been popping up all over the internet claiming that police came armed with zip ties and were overly aggressive to the people in the bar (you can find links to some of the stories toward the bottom of this article).  An early statement by the police said that they encountered hostile and argumentative drunks that made “sexually explicit movements” and even “assaulted a TABC agent by grabbing the agent’s groin.” Witnesses claim that these allegations are false and the police harassed people for no reason. Regardless of whether or not the above allegations are true, a man was still admitted to the hospital with a brain injury and there is no excuse or justification for that.

People are outraged with the FWPD, but the interesting thing is that Fort Worth was one of the first cities in Texas to pass a non-discrimination ordinance including LGBT people. The State of Texas does not currently have a non-discrimination ordinance that includes LGBT people, and the TABC (a state organization) are the ones that arrested Chad Gibson. Another interesting thing is that Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has become proactive by saying he’ll add LGBT liaison and sensitivity training. So far the TABC has not stepped up to offer improvements in their organization. Is it needed? What really happened at the Rainbow Lounge? A thorough investigation is needed to find out exactly what happened, and who is responsible for the hospitalization of Gibson.

Here are some things that you can do to help out:

1.    A facebook group has been created and is called “Rainbow Lounge Raid”. It mentions that an account has been set up at Frost Bank to benefit Gibson and people can make donations to Q Cinema for the benefit of Chad Gibson (the donation is through Q Cinema in order to be tax deductible). The account number is 608439230. Make checks out to “Q Cinema FBO Chad Gibson. It also mentions that the ability to make online donations will be coming soon.
2.    You can also send emails to Fort Worth councilmembers to demand a full and independent investigation into the appalling raid on the Rainbow Lounge. The key word here is “Independent” to ensure the investigation is not biased. So far, only Joel Burns and two of his colleagues have called for a swift, thorough, open and transparent investigation.

•    Councilmember W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman
817-392-8803
District3@fortworthgov.org

•    Councilmember Danny Scarth
817-392-8804
District4@fortworthgov.org

•    Councilmember Frank Moss
817-392-8805
District5@fortworthgov.org

•    Councilmember Jungus Jordan
817-392-8806
District6@fortworthgov.org

•    Councilmember Carter Burdette
817-392-8807
District7@fortworthgov.org

•    Mayor Mike Moncrief
817-392-6118
mike.moncrief@fortworthgov.org

3.    Call and send emails to thank the people who have supported a thorough investigation:

•    Councilmember Joel Burns
817-392-8809
District9@fortworthgov.org

•    Senator Wendy Davis
(817) 332-3338
wendy.davis@senate.state.tx.us

•    House Representative Lon Burnam
(817) 924-1997
lon.burnam@house.state.tx.us

4.    Upcoming events for people in or near Fort Worth, TX:
•    7/03/09 – 9 p.m. Benefit Show for Chad Gibson, Rainbow Lounge
•    7/14/09 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14: Fort Worth City Council Meeting, Fort Worth Municipal Building
1000 Throckmorton St.

This blog was written by Eric Ross who is a Join the Impact organizer in the East Bay of California.
Follow him on:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Ross/843099482
Twitter – @LGBT_Activist

Here are some articles regarding the Rainbow Lounge Incident:

Star Telegram – http://www.star-telegram.com/804/story/1460939.html?storylink=omni_popular

The Dallas Morning News – http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/localnews/columnists/jfloyd/stories/063009dnmetfloyd.3bddb2c.html

The Dallas Voice – http://www.dallasvoice.com/artman/publish/article_11521.php

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Statement – http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/public_information/notices/2009/multipleArrests.asp

The Caucus Blog – http://thecaucusblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/fort-worth-council-member-joel-burns.html

The Stranger (SLOG) – http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/06/30/fort-worth-police-chief-that-faggot-had-it-coming

Fairness Works – The American Dream In

Posted by admin On July - 1 - 2009

Fairness does work.  Unfortunately millions are not protected from unfair job termination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Join the Impact hopes to change the landscape by helping pass three important pieces of legislation, the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

The American Dream is a fundamental promise to each and every citizen that they have the opportunity to advance beyond their current condition to a better life rich with opportunity. The Dream is an ideal our country continues to strive for but does not always fulfill.  For some gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people the Dream is challenged by workplace discrimination and early termination based solely on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Yesterday,  June 30, Lt. Dan Choi who has worked bravely for his country as a mission critical soldier with Arabic language skills, was fired because he publicly acknowledged he is gay. This injustice must end now! We have to fight to end institutionalized discrimination and homophobia, and education is part of that fight.

It is time for America to wake up, to learn, and to urge Congress to end decades of discrimination right now!

Here’s how YOU can help.  A committee of Join the Impact volunteers developed a set of tools for you to use to teach your friends, families, and neighbors about ENDA, EFCA, and the repeal of DADT.  These tools will help you explain workforce discrimination, its impact on our culture, our military, and our families. Knowledge is power, and together we will focus our power on our Representatives during the August recess.

To learn more and to sign-up to host a Fairness Works American Dream-In, simply go to http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/ to sign up. You can also help spread the word on facebook!

Still haven’t set up your in-district visits to help pass ENDA? Find out how here http://bit.ly/10Ot47

Your help is vital to the success of this program.  Please volunteer, so together we can make an impact!

Act NOW to support ENDA!

Posted by admin On June - 24 - 2009

Representative Barney Frank, joined by Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis and at least 100 cosponsors, introduced a Federal Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination (ENDA) bill today.  ENDA will add sexual orientation and gender identity to pre-existing employment non-discrimination laws. ENDA is such a common sense idea that most people believe it is already illegal to fire someone for being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender.  While there are already 12 states and 100 localities that protect 40 percent of the population, millions are still at risk.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be approached by your boss and fired for who you were born to be? What would you do? How would you protect yourself and your family?  Many can not without ENDA. THIS CAN’T CONTINUE! This is wrong. This is un-American. We must put an end to it.

Join the Impact is a proud member of the United ENDA Coalition.  Together we have come up with several actions you can do RIGHT NOW:

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and have them connect you to your Representative (based on your zip code). Tell them:

I am a constituent and I would like you to please tell Representative _______ that I would like him/her to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace. Can you tell me whether or not Representative _______  will support  the bill?

Send a message to Laura Hart with United ENDA with a report of your representative’s response.

Once you make your call, follow up with an e-mail, or even better a physical letter.  You can find contact info here: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Finally, follow up your calls and letters with visits to your representatives during their August recess.  Join the Impact will be rolling out tools in the near future for you to use during your meeting to discuss ENDA and other important goals.  In the mean time call now to make your appointments.

Your personal stories are your most powerful tool.  Have you ever been fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?  Please share your stories in the comments section below. Don’t stop there; write a letter to the editor, write a blog, tweet, Facebook, make a you tube video, or even stand on a soap box with a bull horn during lunch. Do anything and everything you can to tell your story.

We need your help and we need it now.  Call your reps and make a stand for equality today!

Equality is now. Demand it!

Posted by admin On June - 17 - 2009

The following Op-Ed was written by Joe Mirabella. Joe Mirabella is a volunteer for Join the Impact as the Washington State Community Organizer.  Mirabella is a full time writer and content developer. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

UPDATE 4:12 PM PST: Transcript of the President’s comments during the signing ceremony.

UPDATE 3:34 PM PST: The President signed a more lasting executive order and renewed his commitment to over turn DOMA. Our voices are making an impact.  Keep it up. For up to the minute blogging of the signing ceremony visit the Law Dork 2.0.

The President announced plans to sign a memorandum to grant Federal Employees in Same-Sex relationships access to some domestic partnership rights. This announcement came on the heals of last week’s release of the Department of Justice memo comparing same-sex relationships to incestuous and pedophile relationships among other outrageous and highly injurious claims. The 50 page brief was a stab in the back and the President is quickly trying to recover from it. However, instead of introducing meaningful and lasting legislation that will impact the entire country, the President’s memorandum is weak and temporary. When he leaves office the memorandum will lapse leaving those protected by this symbolic measure with nothing but a legal and fiduciary mess.

And let’s not forget, domestic partnership benefits like health care are taxed unfairly. Same-sex couples must claim benefits like health care as income. Opposite sex couples do not. Domestic partnerships are just one more glaring example that separate is never equal. But this may be a moot point since the President is likely to stop short of offering health care and retirement benefits because of DOMA.

Some have suggested we should applaud the move. Chris Geidner from Law Dork, 2.0 wrote:

Yes, we want and deserve more, much more — including all those campaign promises the President Obama gave to us. But, in the midst of the turmoil of all the legal debacles of the past week — and regardless of why Obama chose to take this action now — let’s stop and be strategic for a minute to realize how we can harness the power of this memorandum to move forward the causes of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA and passing ENDA. In each case, this can be used to advance those missions:

  • As John Aravosis pointed out, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would keep military service members from accepting the benefits — even if they are eligible under the memorandum. The obvious unfairness of that can be used to urge Congress to take quick action.
  • As for DOMA, the reality of a quarter-million folks in D.C. being eligible for benefits tomorrow that they weren’t today will be a powerful everyday sign of the need for a less anachronistic federal policy on marriage equality. This action is living proof of how wrong the DOJ brief filed in Smelt v. United States truly is.
  • ENDA becomes a common-sense step under the same logic as above. If the federal government is granting its lesbian and gay employees partner benefits, it seems obvious that an employer should never be able to fire an LGBT employee based on that fact alone.

Geidner made some very excellent points, but this memorandum must be leveraged at the grass roots level. Last Friday when the DOJ memo was released it unleashed a firestorm of criticism from bloggers like David Badash, Andrew Sullivan, and others. Editorial boards like the New York Times decried the memo as “a bad call.” But most importantly citizens throughout this country said, “No!” Twitter and Facebook were alive with messages to @barackobama and @whitehouse protesting the memo and its insulting language. The President clearly heard our message, but he did not go far enough.

We must not be placated by this disingenuous move. The HRC and others were very clear, and very correct to demand the President to introduce legislation now to repeal DOMA, to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and to protect all gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual citizens in their employment through the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The administration told the Advocate there is not enough votes to pass ENDA or even the very symbolic and highly over due hate crimes legislation. Politicians have not heard us. We must be relentless. We must be unforgettable. We must be loud and clear that their jobs are on the line. Simply, if the Democrats do not start taking action and supporting the people that funded their campaigns, that volunteered their time, that gave them their vote, they are going to lose us and likely their jobs. We are the swing vote. We have enormous power.

Let’s unleash a firestorm on the switchboards of congress today, tomorrow, and every day. (202)224-3121 Let’s follow up our calls with hand written letters. Let’s follow up those letters with visits to their offices. Let’s follow up those visits with a march on Washington in October. Let’s learn from civil rights movements of the past and participate in acts of civil disobedience. Dan Savage from the Stranger proposed one possible idea at the link.*

Friends, if we do no not seize this brief moment in history before the next Presidential election cycle begins in 2010, you can bet our issues will be ignored by anyone who has the power to make the change they were so proud to represent in 2008.

Now is your time. Now is your moment. Equality is now. Demand it!

*(Note: Please consult an attorney before engaging in any acts of civil disobedience that could result in arrest.  Join the Impact is not specifically endorsing Savage’s plan, but simply pointing it out as an example).

Obama defends DOMA, we defend our families

Posted by admin On June - 12 - 2009

The following Op-Ed was written by Joe Mirabella. Joe Mirabella is a volunteer for Join the Impact as the Washington State Community Organizer.  Mirabella is a full time writer and content developer for an online retailer. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

The Obama Flip-Flop campaign was a creative attempt to convince Obama to instruct the Justice Department to refuse to defend the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) lawsuit started by GLAD.  Presidents have the option to let lawsuits go through undefended when they believe they are unconstitutional.  Both Clinton and Bush exercised this option.  Unfortunately, the Justice Department released a 50  page brief today outlining the Obama administration’s defense of DOMA.  Check out the AMERICAblog for their translation of the motion. (A copy of the brief is at the end of this post.) In the mean time let me summarize; it is not good.  The Obama administration is attempting to diminish the two Supreme Court cases that most of our rights are based on, Loving vs Virginia and Lawrence vs Texas.

The LGBT community supported President Obama and his campaign with our money, our valuable time, and our votes.  We believed the President when he promised us he was going to repeal DOMA, end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act, support Hate Crimes Legislation, and more.  We believed the President because he offered the country hope and our community needed hope more than any other community in America.  We needed a friend in the White House who was willing to lead us through the civil rights movement of the century.  We needed someone who was not going to stab us in the back.

Mr. President you flip-flopped.  We should have known.  You started your Presidency with one of the most anti-gay Pastors in the country giving your inaugural prayer, Rick Warren.  You further hurt us by remaining silent on proposition 8.  The one moment you mentioned our advances in Iowa and other states was in jest at the correspondence dinner. You asked the Supreme Court to ignore an appeal on Don’t Ask Don’t tell for “unit cohesion”.  You did all these things and yet your promises remained on Whitehouse.gov (FYI his promise to repeal DOMA is no longer there.)  Some of us still hoped, myself included, that you would do the right thing and not defend DOMA.

I no longer have hope for you President Obama.  I no longer believe you are on my side. Your adminstration is using the arguments of our worst enemies to uphold laws that destroy our families.  I should have known. I should not have been so enchanted by your beautiful speeches and colorful campaign posters. Mr. President you are no different than the rest.  You used our community to get to the White House and now you have pushed us aside. This time is different though, because we won’t take it anymore!

I was once on the fence about the October march on Washington.  It is clearer to me now more than ever we can not wait. We need to show up and stand up.  We need to destroy our worst enemy — apathy.  We need to mobilize our communities to fight locally and nationally. We need to demand that our leaders not only say they are going to protect our families, but they must prove it through action.  Flowery speeches will no longeer woo us.  Colorful posters are a red flag now.  If you want the support of the LGBT community, you will have to earn it.

A group of leaders met this spring in Dallas to discuss the future of the LGBT civil rights movement.  They developed a set of ideals that I think are a good start. They are called the Dallas Principles:

In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow:

1.Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now.  Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

2.We will not leave any part of our community behind.

3.Separate is never equal.

4.Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

5.The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

6.Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.

7.Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.

8.Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

We are in a fight for our lives. Maine needs our help to protect marriage from a voter initiative to overturn the recent gain there.  Washington needs our help to protect Domestic Partnerships from a group of fundamentalists. Gays and lesbians are still being fired from their jobs because of who they were born to be.  Children are being hurt as they are ripped from loving same-sex parent’s arms and returned to foster care systems. Our community continues to be violently attacked in hate motivated crimes. Obama reminded us today that we are the only ones we can depend on to fight for our rights. Apathy is no longer an option. Either stand up for yourself now or don’t be surprised when we are left with nothing.

Join the Impact will be launching several tools in the near future to help you fight for your rights. In the mean time volunteer your time locally, get ready to go to Washington DC, donate your money to LGBT causes, demand your representatives vote for your rights, talk to people about our issues, and most importantly do not give up.

When Obama became President, he asked us to hold his feet to the fire when he was letting us down. Mr. President, you let me down.  Join me by telling the president he let you down by twittering the president @barackobama with the tag #promise

It is no longer okay for our elected leaders to take advantage of us. If you want our support, you will have to earn it through action.  You better start now, because we are watching.

Obama’s Motion to Dismiss Marriage case

Prop 8 Remains – What’s Next?

Posted by amy On May - 26 - 2009

On November 7th, sometime before noon Pacific time, Willow Witte and I were emailing back and forth about Proposition 8.  What came from those emails was JoinTheImpact.com and a blog post that called for national protests across the country in response to Proposition 8.  Now, 6 months later, I have that same lump in my throat and the same feeling of anxiety, mixed with anger, mixed with sadness.  Basically, it’s like getting side-swiped by a car.  But there’s something that makes today far different than those days following the November 4th passage of Proposition 8.  That difference is you.

On November 7th, Willow and I assumed we’d get maybe 4 cities involved in a protest of Prop 8.  We figured that would be a huge accomplishment after just a week of notice.  We assumed that we would have one high stress week and then go back to our local activism and wait with everyone else to see what happens next.  But in that week, EVERYTHING changed.  Within just a few days our servers crashed from the amount of traffic to this site.  By November 10th the national protest became international with 10 other countries signing on.  By November 12th we were discussing how to become a non-profit.  By November 14th we were forming a board.  And by November 15th, we stood in amazement as we realized that Prop 8 awoke a sleeping beast and we were lucky enough to be just one small piece of the extremely loud roar that this beast has continued to chant.

This sleeping beast is grassroots.  This sleeping beast is netroots.  It is flash activism in it’s purest form. This sleeping beast is every single one of you who came out on November 15th.  And every single one of you who has come out time and time again.  Those of you who organized for November 15th and continue to organize across this country.  This sleeping beast is led by activists who have been fighting this fight since Stonewall and before.  It is led by new activists as well; young people who can intuitively harness the tools of their generation and spread the message of equality far and wide in milliseconds.  In this past 6 months, so many new organizations have sprung up, and so many seasoned organizations have lent a helping hand to ensure that we are all one family fighting for the same cause.  In 6 months we have won marriage equality in 4 other states: Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, and Maine with Domestic Partnership expansion laws passing in states like Washington.  The Matthew Shepard Act passed in the house by a vote of 249 to 171.  We have new rights in our grasps (rights that others in this country have always had without a second thought).  We have an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the horizon, a stronger ENDA law, and the Matthew Sheppard Act sitting in the Senate.  It is amazing what we have accomplished in 6 short months. And if they think that the movement for equality is going to stop now, then they are in for one gigantic surprise!

On November 15th, we asked everyone to unite as one.  One loud voice across over 320 cities and 11 countries chiming in at the exact same moment in history to declare that OUR RIGHTS WILL NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED!  Now is the time for us to come together and STAY TOGETHER.  We will no longer be pinned down by a national force fighting a local force.  We showed the world that Prop 8 is not California’s problem,  it is the NATION’s problem. It is time to fight inequality on all 50 fronts.  We ALL need to come together and take the conversation of equality to the next level.  It is time everyone in this country learns about the harms caused when all families do not receive equal protections under the law.  We need to infiltrate the masses by going to the areas of our country, our states, and our cities that do not understand us.  We need to educate those we meet about who we are and what our families mean to us.  And most importantly, we must end hate by showing the world that we are fighting for love.  We will not back down until our families receive full equality under the law!

Infiltrate. Educate. End Hate.

But how do we do this?  What is next for us?  Well that is up to you.  We are all united in this struggle.  This struggle has roots far deeper than marriage equality.  We must fight for all of our rights.  We must recognize that our fight is no different than the injustices other minority groups receive and we must join with them in our journey.  We must come together as a family – one large family of people who support each other, protect each other, and fight for each other.  If there is an issue in Idaho, we must all lend our support.  If there is an issue in Manhattan, we must all lend our voices to the roar.  If we can all work together, for the greater good of this movement, then VICTORY IS NEXT FOR US.

What is next for you?  What can you do?  Get in touch with your local LGBTQ organization and pledge a minimum of 5 hours per month to help them.  If EVERYONE who reads this blog volunteers 5 hours per month to this movement then we will have over 1 million hours per month of new volunteers across the nation!  Pledge your time.  Get on the phones and phone bank.  Grab a friend and go door to door to educate your neighbors.  Go into the towns that would vote for a Prop 8 in your state and hold a teach in.  If the past 6 months has shown us anything it’s that just one voice can change everything.  Work with organizations like the Courage Campaign, Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact, the HRC, the NGLTF, One Struggle One Fight, and on and on.  EVERYONE has something that they need help on.  Grassroots orgs in California already have taken the next steps to repeal Prop 8 through a ballot initiative.  Volunteer your time to help.  In Washington, a group is trying to repeal the latest Domestic Partnership expansion bill through the ballot.  Even if you’re on the other side of the country, there is still something you can do to help.  In government, the Matthew Sheppard Act is sitting in the Senate.  Call your senator and urge them to pass it.  We need to continue all the hard work that so many amazing organizers have been doing over the past 6 months, but we all need YOUR help.  5 hours is all I’m asking.  Find an organization that you love and ask them how you can help.  Stop another Prop 8 before it happens.

My friend Jonathan Bruns is preparing his speech for tonight’s Day of Decision event in Seattle.  He ran by a very small portion of it with me and I asked him if I could steal it for my closing of this blog post.  Simply and eloquently put he said: We must not focus on this defeat, instead, we must now focus on our future victory!

Prop 8 Decision announced tomorrow!

Posted by willow On May - 25 - 2009

In November, over 6 months ago, we were devastated by the passing of California’s Proposition 8. Since March 5 our community has awaited the decision from the California Supreme Court on the validity of Proposition 8 and whether the 18,000 Marriages, JTI’s co-founder Amy’s among them, would stand.

Wanna get involved? Wanna help? Wanna know the moment the decision comes down?

1. KNOW THE RESULT- The court could issue the ruling as early as 10am. Be the first to know the decision with text alerts:
From National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) at http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=nclr_getinvolved_mobilealerts

From Credo Mobile & Courage Campaign by texting DECISION to 27336

2. RESPOND- Whether we celebrate or protest, Day of Decision events have been organized throughout the US & Canada 90 cities & counting. To find the rally nearest you go to www.dayofdecision.com or text RALLY + your zip code to 27336

3. GET INVOLVED- Whether we win or lose Proposition 8, there is still much work to be done to get full equality under the law. We must engage communities that are reflective of Middle American values. In California this means heading to the Central Valley- which is why every Californian who is passionate about being involved in the fight for full equality in their state will be heading to Fresno for Meet In the Middle the Saturday after the Prop 8 decision. http://www.meetinthemiddle4equality.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=6

Join The Impact has endorsed Meet In the Middle because we believe strongly that when we envision the necessary work in the LGBT movement we MUST take our stories beyond progressive states, cities and neighborhoods. We must do the work where it is hardest. We hope you’ll join us in the fight.

Cleve Jones, Dustin Lance Black, Michele Clunie, Charlize Theron and 70 plus endorsing organizations will be there. Will you?

If you’re outside California or can’t make it to Meet In The Middle you can support by giving a small donation, even $5 helps, to Meet In The Middle at http://www.meetinthemiddle4equality.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71&Itemid=18

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 .

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.